CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa State mascot Cy made an unusual trip to Hawkeye Country on Wednesday to cheer on a 9-year-old boy who was teased for wearing his cardinal and gold gear to school.
Erskine Elementary fourth-grader Alex Theriault was surprised in class when Iowa State University staff arrived at his classroom and asked him to cover his eyes. His classmates erupted into giggles as Cy, towering over the children’s desks, sneaked in to meet Alex.
The boy stared in disbelief at the mascot before giving him a hug.
“I was really shocked,” Alex said. “I was speechless when Cy came in.”
Cy’s journey to the elementary school on Cedar Rapids’ southeast side began the day a group of students teased Alex for rooting for the Cyclones. His mother, JJ Theriault, reached out to his teacher to tell her he had a “pretty rough day all around.”
Upset for her shy, smart student, Kathy Lynott rallied her students around him. Everyone in her fourth-grade class arrived to school a couple days later decked in ISU colors.
Lynott knew it was a moment she would cherish, and it was one she decided to share with ISU’s administration — including a glowing review of Alex, who hopes to attend ISU after graduating high school.
Administrators were moved by the story, said Erica Fischer, ISU’s associate director of marketing and campus visits.
“When we heard what had happened, we knew we needed to do something special for Alex,” Fischer said. “So we decided to make the trip over here.”
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Cy and ISU staff came to Lynott’s classroom with heaps of merchandise donated by the ISU bookstore. All of the students pulled on “future Cyclone” T-shirts as one child of University of Iowa fans gleefully exclaimed: “I’m betraying my family!”
Alex said he was happy to see his classmates embrace the gifts.
“People might want to go to ISU with me,” he said. “I thought it was cool of everyone to do that.”
His teacher was overwhelmed with pride to see her students come together for their classmate.
“It’s the best day in my 26 years of teaching to see this special moment come together,” Lynott said. “We spend so much time on community lessons and friendship lessons. They’re as important as math and science and reading.”
Alex’s father, Ryan Theriault, said he expects his quiet son was thrilled with Cy’s visit — even if he didn’t want to show it all at school.
“He’ll be dancing around the house, for sure,” Ryan Theriault said. “He loves the Cyclones. He downplays everything and doesn’t like the attention, but he’ll be super, super excited about it — especially once he gets home.”
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