By Hope Lecchi
For 26 years, Dan Meers has entertained and delighted audiences as KC Wolf, but there is nothing entertaining or delightful about bullying.
That was the message that Meers gave the students at Heber Hunt Elementary on Thursday afternoon as he spoke to the students at an all school assembly.
“I have such a tremendous platform to make an impact on these kids and their lives,” Meers said after the assembly. “As KC Wolf I have their immediate attention, but the secret is to hold it and let them hear the message.
“The thing I always try to do is entertain, but walk away leaving the kids with a positive message,” he added.
Thursday’s message was all about why it is not acceptable to be a bully in any situation and what children should do to prevent the action when they see it displayed by others, but just as important, what to do when they bully others.
“It’s a problem that really does exist,” Meers told the students. “I read the other day on the internet when I was doing research that one out of three people are effected by bullying. It’s a problem we need to talk about.”
Meers asked the children if they knew what bullying is.
Several students raised their hands and provided responses which Meers used to create the following definition: bullying is when someone keeps doing mean or hurtful things or keeps saying things that are mean.
“Every time I think of bullying I think of the word ‘HIT,’” Meers told the classes. “It’s hurtful because it treats another poorly; it’s intentional, and it’s threatening.”
Meers also told the students that bullying reminded him of his grandmother and her china.
“My grandma always used to say that ‘God don’t make paper plates,’” Meers said as he began to recount a story. “She had her very special, valuable dishes that we probably only got to use three times a year, at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.
“After we finished each one of the meals with the china, we had to hand wash them and dry them and shine them up,” he added. “But, my grandma had paper plates too.”
At this point in the story the students gazed at Meers with puzzled looks on many of their faces.
Meers then told the students that his grandmother had the paper plates for two reasons, one: she liked to eat and two: she did not like to do dishes.
“Grandma knew that she could throw the paper plates away because they had no value,” Meers continued. “People aren’t like the paper plates because everyone is valuable and special.
“We need to treat each other that way,” Meers said “I don’t mean we have to be best friends with everyone, but we do have to show respect to everyone.”
Meers gave the students several pieces of advice for how to handle a situation if they are the victims of bullying or if they see someone who is being bullied.
Meers told the audience if they witness an act of bullying or if they are bullied to tell the person who is the bully that their actions are not appreciated.
“You should tell an adult,” Meers said “And if it is happening to you, walk away, never fight back.
“If you are the person who is being the bully, say you are sorry if you hurt someone,” Meers said. “Make a commitment not to do it again.”
Before taking questions from the students Meers gave them a final piece of advice.
“It’s nice to be important,” Meers said. “But, it’s more important to be nice.”
As KC Wolf Meers said he has witnessed a lot and learned a lot in the last 26 years.
“I started all of this when I was in college at MU (The University of Missouri-Columbia) Meers said. “One day I saw an ad in the University paper for auditions for Truman the Tiger.
“A friend encourage me to try out and I thought my chances were slim to none, he said with a big smile. “I spent four years in a Tiger suit loving every minute of it.”
Meers graduated in 1990 but that wasn’t the end of his mascot days by any measure.
“1990 was my transition year,” Meers said. “I was Truman until I graduated, then I was Fred Bird the mascot for the St. Louis Cardinals, during baseball season.
“Then I got the phone call that changed everything, Kansas City called and asked if I wanted to be KC Wolf,” Meers added. “I jumped at the chance.”
Meers said he thinks one reason for his decision was the number of home games the two sports play.
“I have ten home games for the Chiefs,” Meers said. “With the Cardinals there are 81.”
Just because there are fewer games Meers work load hasn’t lightened.
He performs at 120 school events each year as well other public appearances. In any given year he typically will have 400 events.
He has also traveled abroad extensively for his job and this year will be in England when the Chiefs play the Detroit Lions on Nov. 1 this year.
“I love what I do,” Meers said. “I’ve learned a few things over the last six years, but I would work with kids until the day I die if they will let me.”
Heber Hunt Principal Brendan Eisenmenger would be thrilled for Meers to come back each year to speak to his students.
“David Furnell approached me and asked if I would like to have KC come to the school,” Eisenmenger said. “I think it is important for the students to hear an important message like this from someone other than their parents or teachers and principals.
“An assembly like this is just a different way for them to hear the message,” Eisenmenger added. “I was proud of all the students and very grateful to Mr. Furnell to give us this opportunity.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484