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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Cougar mascot Cosmo, along with Chase Miller, center, greets students at Saratoga Shores Elementary School on Friday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — As gloomy clouds blew in overhead and chilly rain pelted the school windows Friday afternoon, students at Saratoga Shores Elementary School were feeling blue.

BYU blue, that is!

The kids chanted "B-Y-U" as Brigham Young University's mascot Cosmo Cougar made his grand entrance into the school gym, with one arm — or paw — around sixth-grader Chase Miller, 13.

Chase, who is autistic, gathered approximately 500 petition signatures from his classmates in support of inviting his favorite athletic mascots to the school.

The Jazz Bear will visit Saratoga Shores Thursday. The Salt Lake Bees plan to send tickets to Chase's family so they can hang out with Bumble at a baseball game this summer.

Chase loves mascots, and he especially loves to hug them. He wants to be Cosmo Cougar when he grows up, Chase said, as he tossed a football back and forth with the big, cuddly cougar on the school lawn.

"Cosmo is an awesome mascot," Chase said.

Chase's teacher from third grade, Tim Goodman, helped him with the petition project. Goodman said it got Chase to break out of his shell. "He approached hundreds of the kids and got them to sign this petition at recess," he said.

Goodman then had Chase make a list of his favorite mascots, and the teacher invited them to the school.

During the assembly, Chase's current teacher, Janet Cook, who instructs sixth grade, told the students, "We love Chase for the great guy he is."

Chase's mom, Jen Miller, said her son's love for mascots started when they went to see the annual charity mascot football game at Lehi High School where a sixth-grade football team plays against an all-mascot team.

Chase's father, Mike Miller, was a running back for BYU. "I take my boys to the games, and Chase just developed a love for Cosmo," he said.

During the assembly, Cosmo gave Chase and his twin brother Dylan Miller autographed mini-footballs.

Chase put on a puppet show for the students with a story he had written himself. It was about him hanging out with his friends Cosmo Cougar and Jazz Bear. Cosmo Cougar teased Jazz Bear about the Jazz losing to the Lakers while BYU beat the University of Utah last fall.

Dylan, like his twin, just can't get over that Lakers game. "The Jazz rock," he said. "But it stinked when they lost to the Lakers."

After the assembly, Cosmo roamed the school halls with Chase next to him, greeting kids and giving everyone a high-five.

The halls were decorated with BYU-emblem fleece blankets and tons of BYU artwork the students had drawn. Posters read: "Rise and Shout, the Cougars are Out!" and "Chase, you rock!"

Kids dressed up in their favorite BYU shirts and ballcaps. Some girls, such as sixth-grader Storm Nelson, 12, even dressed up like football players, with eye-black on their faces.

"Cosmo is like, the awesomest mascot ever," Storm said. "I think it's awesome Chase did that (petition) and went to all that trouble to get Cosmo to come here."

"Bye, Cosmo," Chase said sadly, waving as the cougar walked across the school parking lot.


E-mail: astewart@desnews.com