Students audition to fill mascot’s paws

By Megan Hurt

Stitches, the kitten mascot for the UK Children’s Hospital, visits patients to hand out stickers, coloring books and hugs to the kids. The hospital is now looking for a student to fill the mascot suit.

Interviews for the mascot, a younger version of the Wildcat, began Sunday and will continue tonight at 7:30 in the Seaton Center.

“The UK student who will be Stitches should be someone who is outgoing, someone who has an outward personality and can project that through a costume,” said Cynde Estep, UK HealthCare senior service line manager. “The person selected should also be good with children and have good physical stamina, because the costume is heavy, and they will be working in winter and summer weather.”

Stitches, only in his second year as a mascot, represents the Children’s Hospital at events in the community including parades and baseball games. The mascot also pays weekly visits to the hospital to entertain the patients in their rooms, Estep said.

“The university has a wildcat, and the Children’s Hospital has the child’s version — a kitten,” Estep said. “This is something children can relate to.”

To try out, individuals will be asked to dance to various music styles to judge how they move in the costume, participate in improvisations and entertain the judges with props that are provided.

The judges are UK’s Wildcat mascot Josh Turner, UK cheerleading head coach Jomo Thompson and Estep.

“It’s important that a student becoming the mascot is entertaining,” Turner said. “You must be entertaining at all times. We’re also looking for a student who’s friendliest in the costume because they will be interacting with children.”

Estep said mascot experience is preferred, but not required.

The student selected as head mascot will receive a scholarship for the full cost of in-state tuition and the student chosen to be the secondary mascot will receive half of in-state tuition. A handler, who assists the mascots and speaks on their behalf has already been chosen and is a student intern at the hospital, Estep said.

The students selected will be sent to mascot training in August with the students already chosen for UK’s mascots Wildcat and Scratch. Duties as Stitches will begin immediately after training and will continue through the summer of 2009.

For more information about becoming the new Stitches, contact Estep at (859) 257-2623.