Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward
July 20, 2020

Hats Off to Hawkeye: How One Family Gave Back to a Special Mascot

A fan favorite, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks mascot, Hawkeye, brings joy and laughter to thousands of kids in the ballpark each summer. So when one Bell employee discovered the story of the man behind the costume, she knew she needed to pay it forward.

Hawkeye Pay It Forward
Hawkeye Pay It Forward
Hawkeye Pay It Forward
Hawkeye Pay It Forward

“I’m out there watching him performing, hugging and high-fiving, hyping up the crowd, dancing – but knowing everything they were going through at home just amazed me. At that moment, I couldn’t think of a more deserving family.” – Heidi Schumacher, assistant BSA/fraud officer

Bell Employee

Heidi Schumacher, assistant BSA/fraud officer

Fargo, N.D.

Recipient

Mike “Hawkeye” Wold and family

Fargo, N.D.

The Need

Whether it’s the scent of fresh-dipped corn dogs, an anticipated home run or post-game fireworks to top off the night, there’s much to look forward to at summer baseball games. For younger fans in Fargo-Moorhead, much of the appeal is the appearance of the RedHawks’ mascot, Hawkeye.

One fan, Austin Schumacher, has been attending RedHawks games with his dad since he was 2 years old. But like a handful of other kids, he wasn’t always so keen on the theatrical, 7-foot bird.

“I would try to get Austin to give me a high-five, but he was petrified of me for the first year or so,” explains Mike Wold, who plays Hawkeye. With a little creativity and a dash of humor, Hawkeye eventually won Austin over. “Ever since then, we kind of had this special bond,” Mike adds.

Despite his light-hearted humor, things are sometimes heavier at home when Mike steps out of his Hawkeye costume. In fact, when he and his wife, Marysa, got pregnant with their second child, Oliver, the pregnancy quickly became complicated.

“Oliver was born at 37 and a half weeks,” Marysa explains. “I felt little movement, and so we went in to triage, and within 45 minutes they had delivered him C-section … not breathing.”

Doctors performed CPR to resuscitate the infant – and were successful – but he remained in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for the first 20 days of his life.

“He had 2 emergency blood transfusions while he was in the NICU,” Mike says. “The first week, we didn’t know if he was going to live or not.”

Fighting for his life, a complicated birth was just the start of Oliver’s health journey. Years later, in March 2019, he had tendon-lengthening surgery and was in a cast from his hips down for the 3 weeks that followed. With medical bills piling up, money became tight.

The Impact

Austin’s mother, assistant BSA/fraud officer Heidi Schumacher, had gotten to know Mike – but only the public version. It wasn’t until her brother-in-law shared the Wolds’ story that Heidi discovered the real man inside the costume.

“I’m out there watching him performing, hugging and high-fiving, hyping up the crowd, dancing – but knowing everything they were going through at home just amazed me,” Heidi says. “At that moment, I couldn’t think of a more deserving family.”

With Bell’s Pay It Forward program, Heidi knew she had the means to help. Taking it one step further, she asked her team if anyone else was interested in contributing their funds.

Asking the Wolds to dinner, Heidi brought the Pay It Forward check with her.

“She handed it to Mike, and Heidi started crying, and then Mike started crying, and I hadn’t seen it yet,” Marysa recalls. Eight Bell employees had donated to the Wold family for a total $7,500.

“We were all crying in the middle of the restaurant,” Heidi says. "But it was awesome, because of the fact that we get to offer that to people. I wouldn’t be able to hand over $7,500 to someone on my own.”

Seven Bell employees – all strangers to the Wolds – had signed a card for them that night, letting them know they care.

“It’s been amazing – since Oliver’s been born – the amount of help, prayers and everything that has been given to us,” Marysa says.

“Her family means the world to us,” Mike adds, tears flooding his eyes. “She’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever known.”

Through the Pay It Forward program, Bell gives employees money each year to donate to people and causes they care about.