It always feels great to have the opportunity to share a positive, uplifting news story, especially when it's from right here in Central Texas.

Our news partners at KWTX report that Mikey McKibben of Aquilla (about 53 miles north of Temple) is one of four finalists in Varsity Brands' search for the best mascot in the country.

At age 2, Mikey was diagnosed with Apraxia, which made it difficult for him to speak. Mikey has four sisters, and his mother says he was "dragged to competitions all over", so it only seems natural that he'd take an interest in revving up crowds.

Mikey, now affectionately known as MAC (Mikey the Aquilla Cougar) tried out for mascot duties last year, won All American at his first cheer camp, and has become a town favorite. He's even been a bell ringer for the Salvation Army (in costume, of course).

Back in December, a friend nominated him for best mascot competition. Mikey's family helped him create a video, and he wrote a 200-word essay about his experiences in life and in costume.

“Being my school’s mascot is very significant to me because it allows me to be myself without judgment,” he wrote. “I do not have to cheer or yell like the cheerleaders because of my costume. So, I have the opportunity to excite and motivate the fans to cheer for our team in a different way and encourage others to support our school, athletes and community.”

How many kids do you know who are this enthusiastic about raising their community's spirits?

Unfortunately, voting for the award isn't public. Otherwise I know Central Texas would have Mikey's votes through the roof in a matter of minutes once this story made the rounds.

Let's wish him luck, keep him in prayers, or do whatever we can to support him. The grand prize is a $3,000 scholarship, and Mikey plans to keep being a mascot in college and, hopefully, beyond.

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