Oh the places you’ll go…

By LESLIE PRITCHETT

Staff Writer

What seemed to be a normal day in April of 2003 was a day that changed my family’s lives forever. 

As my mom picked me up from school I noticed Donald and Ronald Long, two mentally handicapped men, sitting in the car. They were having issues and needed our help. 

My family immediately fell in love with both of them, and they became my adopted brothers. 

As years passed, Ronald decided that he was going to live on his own and be more independent without his brother. 

Donald was okay with that because he felt the same way. 

Years before we met Donald Long, he was the mascot for Hart County High School and continued to be until I graduated. 

He said, “I want to finish when you finish, Leslie.” 

I’ve been out of high school for almost two years now, and he never seemed interested in being mascot again until my dad asked him a couple of weeks ago if he wanted to do it. 

That sparked an interest in him, and our family and the school started to plan what was going to happen on that Friday night under the lights in Herndon Stadium. 

The week before the big game, Long could hardly hold in his excitement. 

He didn’t even know that he was going to be recognized with an award during the game. If anybody likes attention, it’s Long. 

Long was presented with an honorary award for being mascot for the years past and this particular game on Sept. 25, 2015, against the biggest rivalry in the area. 

A retired mascot came back to cheer on the Bulldogs like he used to in the past. 

As the game continued, he never stopped cheering. He gave it all he had until the clock hit zero. 

No one else was willing to put forth the effort like he did. The cheerleaders loved him, and he loved them. 

After the game was over, he became Long again instead of the Hart County Bulldog. 

He’s always hungry, so we took him to Huddle House, the only thing open after a game, and he ordered the biggest meal there. 

He ate every single bite. “Being the mascot can wear you out,” he said. 

Seeing him happy that night made me happy. 

Behind the mascot’s mask is a man who doesn’t care what people think. 

He doesn’t think twice about things that he does. If every person in the world could be like him, the world would be a much better place. 

Even though Hart County didn’t come out with a win, he did.