As NFL mascots go, Blitz (follow on Twitter @BlitzTheSeahawk) is unique. And not just because he helps represent the local NFL team in all things Seahawks.
The man inside the suit is Ryan Asdourian, and he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in December of 2008. Since then, Asdourian has been not just a man inside a bird costume, but a man on a mission to raise funds for others with MS.
Part of that quest has been getting other NFL mascots involved in his cause for a cure – like Blue, the mascot for the Indianapolis Colts (follow on Twitter @BlueColtsMascot). Before Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, Blue presented Blitz with a check for $5,000 to benefit the National MS Society.
“It was awesome,” Blitz, er, Asdourian said Tuesday while on a business trip in the San Francisco Bay Area for his real job with Microsoft.
How Blue raised the funds was even more awesome. He biked, in costume, to every Toyota dealership in Indy after getting pedal pledges to support his endeavor.
This Blitz/Blue relationship began 2½ years ago, when Asdourian began hosting a pub crawl and a walk in Seattle to raise fund for MS. The first walk included 11 other NFL mascots, including Blue.
“Blue was basically like, ‘Hey, I want to go do a bunch of fundraising in Indianapolis,’ ” Asdourian said. “So he did that. He started this whole fundraising thing.”
That led to Blue getting Blitz to Indy on Sunday so he could present him the check.
“It was just a super-cool experience,” Asdourian said.
Last year’s pub crawl in Seattle attracted 450 people are raised more than $23,000 for the MS Society, pushing the total Asdourian’s events have generated to more than $300,000. Asdourian is currently planning his fifth annual fund-raising events in Seattle, which traditionally have been held in April, and he’s toying with ideas to make it not only the latest but the greatest.
Asdourian, who was the Gator mascot at the University of Florida, came to Seattle because of his job at Microsoft. He became Blitz by, well, let him tell the story.
“The quick story is, I was working for Microsoft and I emailed the Seahawks,” Asdourian said. “What I got was the perfect-scripted response, because the old mascot was leaving and the team was going with a part-time mascot.
“He also said, ‘Hey, I’m roommates with the Mariner Moose. Do you want to grab a beer? I was like, ‘Fantastic, you just made my day.’ So I had a beer with the Moose and the current Blitz … and here I am, eight seasons later.”
And how’s he doing with his own MS. The answer to that would be that he’s still Blitz, and still raising funds for MS.
“Health-wise, I’m actually very well,” he said. “I don’t have too many symptoms or flare-ups.”
Asdourian also is doing very well as a fundraiser for MS, thanks to more than just a little help from his bubby Blue in Indy.