Greenbrier High School mascot Bobby Bobcat is heading to Walt Disney World thanks to a coordinated community effort to get him there.
In February, Bobby was named a finalist in the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards. The winners will be revealed during a May 9 awards show in Orlando. A crowdfunded gift will cover all his trip expenses.
Bobby was presented the news in a surprise ceremony at Greenbrier Pharmacy and Fountain on March 13.
“The surprise was very shocking and left me speechless,” he said. “I so dearly appreciate the Greenbrier community because we aren't just a community, we're family. We all support each other's passions and raise awareness for great causes.”
Bobby earned a spot as a top-4 finalist in 2019, but the steep price of the trip kept him from attending. When Lora Taylor, mother of Greenbrier basketball and football sophomore Derek Taylor, realized that the same scenario was going to play out this year, she had an idea.
“I was like, ‘They can’t not go,’’ Taylor said. “I sent a private message to some of my Facebook friends and asked if people were willing to help me get him the money to go. And it just exploded from there.”
Sixty-eight people donated more than $3,000 combined – surpassing Taylor’s initial goal of $2,500. The gift will cover gas, food, lodging and Disney World tickets for Bobby and his human support staff. Leftover funds will be used for him to attend a mascot camp this summer.
“Everybody just loves him so much,” Taylor said. “He is so dedicated and wants to bring joy. All my friends sent messages to their friends. People came out of the woodwork.”
Bobby is a fixture at community and sporting events. He breaks out dance moves, takes photos and keeps everyone entertained, especially children. Taylor said this is Greenbrier’s way of thanking him for his dedication.
“He’s a staple,” she said. “Everybody is looking for him at the basketball games, football games and softball games. Any (grand) opening that a business is having, he’s going to be there.”
The generosity is not lost on Bobby, who hopes to return the favor by earning the grand prize.
“I truly thank everyone in this great community who supports me as much as I try to support the community,” he said. “I hope to repay this great gift by bringing home the Varsity Brands Mascot Award.”