Bake sales, paper hearts, pink trucks, oh my! The Cottey Mission

First, I must apologize for the lack of superhero updates the last couple of months. The Superheroes have definitely been out and about, and in fact have even made regular visits (and friends) with residents at Clark Fork Manor. We are finally ready to get back on track reporting our kindness-based shenanigans!

The mission I write about today is one that was quite special to me and is one I know will keep my bucket full for a long time. It was the much anticipated and highly awaited Cottey mission. For this act of kindness, I gave my Missoula Superheroes big hugs and then crossed a few state borders to join our friends, the Superhereos of Kindness stationed in Nevada, Missouri, for a mission on their turf. Superheroes of all ages started helping a couple days in advance of the actual mission. Friends of the heroes at Missoula Community School baked away to hold a bake sale to help fund the cost of my plane ticket to join our Nevada heroes. I have never seen anything like this bake sale! The most beautiful (and delicious) pies I have ever seen! Lemon bars that still make my mouth water. It was decadent, to say the least. And the support, my goodness, I still don’t know what to say about the support. I left knowing my friends at home not only helped me make my travels, but also wanted this to happen as much as I did.

The following day, the morning came in which I was going to meet our fellow Superheroes of Kindness that I have come to love but have never met. After giving my family a gentle kiss on the forehead while they slept, I stepped out my door, donned my cape, and took to the skies. (Ok, really, I hopped a plane, but as I sat by the window on my flight I envisioned myself flying in the sky, cape flapping in the wind and I’ve decided to stick with that vision.) When my feet finally touched ground again and my cape settled, it was time to meet the person not only in charge of planning the superheroes missions but also in charge of keeping the heart of the heroes pure, Phil Bures. Let’s just say it was like two little kids in a tree house, recounting their favorite superhero moments and truly believing they, too, had superpowers. Before I began to get to know the town of Nevada, I checked into my hotel, which I have to thank the optimist club of Nevada for sponsoring!

I arrived two days before the actual mission so that I could soak up the atmosphere of the town. After all, the superheroes program exists in part to model that no one is too small to make a difference in their community. I needed to get acquainted with the town in order to see the impact they make with each mission. My fabulous hosts led me on a tour of Nevada and I was able to sit down in the evening and chat with some of the folks who have helped get the superheroes up and running as well as helped make some of the details of this mission possible. It was a unique moment where I got to hear why the superheroes were important to each and every person there. They all had some similarities, but some different aspects that hit them as well. It was fascinating seeing how both our groups have the same heart, but can hit different people and communities in different ways.

Then the day arrived to put on our capes and hit this town like never before. I have to admit it was a bit weird putting on a cape and not being the person running the show or the person in charge of the children. But I was excited to get the opportunity to let go; get caught up with the overwhelmingly happy feeling that these trips bring without having to pay attention to the details. I had kind of met the children and their teachers before as we had Skyped for the Missoula heroes’ first birthday. It didn’t take long for the children to inform me I came from Montana or to return high fives. I knew instantly that friends surrounded me. In fact, two of these friends stayed by my side every time we walked, seeking me out and of course making me smile. The mission started with meeting the pink fire truck from KC Chapter of the Guardians of the Ribbon. This truck has the important mission to raise awareness for cancer and all who are affected by it. The truck was brought in special for this mission. The children were focused on the fact the fireman was wearing pink but I was focused on the number of adults (not just at this moment but throughout the mission) who were touched by the opportunity to sign the bus in honor of someone they knew who had battled cancer. It was deeply impacting to see how clear it was that this group knew exactly what their town needed.

Soon after we all loaded up on the school bus (which was great excitement in and of itself), and the procession started. Now, this was way cool! The bus and fire truck were escorted by police officers, in the front and the back. At first some children were confused as to what was going on. But as we explained the police have their sirens on so we can go through red lights, everyone has to stop for us, and people will wave to us, the children became very excited. One even said, “That means we’re famous!” I do have to admit, I was feeling pretty awesome because of it.

When we got to Cottey College, it was time to get serious (you know, in the preschool children wearing capes and bringing kindness way) and start putting smiles on the faces of all those we encountered. For this mission, each person received one of the Nevada heroes’ signature hearts along with a daisy. Seniors would receive a yellow graduation duck. We first hit the maintenance, cleaning, and facilities staff. They talked up the children, who of course answered the call, before heading off for more. We headed over to the dining hall where we handed out our treasures to the cooks and dining staff. The children sat down for a sack lunch provided by the school to fuel up before things got really amped up. The superheroes were spread out so there were a couple at each table. As students entered, their minds most likely on the final they just took or the one they are studying for, they met the pleasant surprise of young children in capes. After getting their food, the students of Cottey sat with the students of St. Mary’s and had a chance to talk about anything and everything, except their finals of course. I saw students giggling, engaging the younger students, and showing girls how to put daisies in their hair. There was practically a barricade at the entrance as leaders of kindness wanted to make sure to miss no one. One of my favorites was an older gentleman coming in. The students asked if he was a senior, to which he replied no, he was too old to go to this school. I had to withhold laughter as I thought, “plus, this is a girl’s college.”

 After we had definitely made our mark in the dining hall (as noted by the many, many daisy petals on the ground), we headed off. Our next stop was a sit down at the board table to meet with the college president. Here, she thanked the children for all they do. I have no idea if any child realized how big it was, but I had to hold back tears. These children have made enough of an impact that they had a sit down thank you from the college president. There was nothing about this mission that was small, but it was this moment that I felt overtaken by the magnitude of its impact. Shortly after, we headed back to the school. As we walked back in with my new best friends, the children began asking if I was staying with them. I had to break the bad news that no, I could not. I had to head back to Montana soon. After they threw out a few reasons why I should stay, I finally offered to send a postcard of a grizzly bear when I got back. I told them there was one condition; they sent me a postcard back. And here, folks, is my last memory. One child responded, “Sure! After we send a postcard to the bank.” This was followed by a discussion as to whether or not banks accept postcards. I truly felt right at home. (The decision was I guess we will have to wait and see.)

 As I flew back to Missoula, a large smile never left my face. All in all, I do believe I left a part of my heart in that town, or that they gave me part of theirs. Or better yet, both. I know now more than ever why the superheroes are so important, and felt first hand what it feels like to have a single mission change your life for the better. I would like to give a sincere thank you to all who helped make this mission happen, and thank Phil for pulling out all the stops for this epic mission.  It makes my heart happy to have Phil and the Nevada heroes as part of our superhero family.

This is a unique mission in that you can get different viewpoints (ahhh, perspective). If you would like to read this mission from the perspective of the Missouri heroes, click here.

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