Dixie High graduate credits mascot duties for confidence, diploma

May 23, 2018, 5:49 PM | Updated: 9:14 pm

ST. GEORGE, Utah – A new graduate from Dixie High School has credited his years as the school’s mascot for helping to build his confidence and earn his diploma.

The Alder family wasn’t sure the day would ever happen. However, there he was. Jonathan Alder walked across the stage as a Dixie High School graduate.

Jonathan Alder and the Dixie High School class of 2018 prepare to receive their diplomas.

“When he was born, we almost lost him,” said Betsy Alder, Jonathan’s mother. “So for us to see him graduating, it’s a miracle.”

It’s enough to make any parent emotional. Not because she doubted her son’s ability in the classroom, but because of everything else.

“He has gone through a lot,” said Betsy.

Jonathan Alder has Marfan’s Syndrome. It’s a disorder that affects his breathing and sleeping.

Jonathan Alder credits his years as the Dixie High School’s mascot for helping to build his confidence and earn his diploma.

He went through several surgeries in the first eight years of his life to try and help correct the issue. However, those surgeries affect his speech and how his jaw looks.

The surgeries also left several scars that are still noticeable on his face and neck.

Jonathan was embarrassed entering high school, and was shy around his classmates. That is, until he discovered Freddy the Flyer.

“It’s fun to me and it’s cool,” said Jonathan.

For three years, Jonathan starred as Freddy the Flyer, Dixie High School’s mascot.

(Courtesy of the Alder Family)

He performed at assemblies, football and basketball games, and anything else where the mascot was needed.

Being in the costume allowed Jonathan to become someone else.

It turns out he could get along with his classmates just fine, including athletes and cheerleaders – and that confidence stayed with him, even when he took the costume off.

“It was fun meeting new people,” said Jonathan.

Jonathan Alder has Marfan’s Syndrome, which meant several surgeries in the first eight years of his life to try and help correct the issue.

“He says hi to everybody. He knows everybody,” said his mother.

It seems like everybody knows him, too, and now he knows they love him just the way he is.

“We’re really excited to see this because we didn’t think it would happen,” said Betsy.

She was talking about graduation day, but she just as easily could have been talking about her son’s confidence.

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Dixie High graduate credits mascot duties for confidence, diploma