Fall lands UNC mascot's keeper in hospital
Posted September 27, 2010 8:47 a.m. EDT
Updated September 27, 2010 7:01 p.m. EDT
Chapel Hill, N.C. — The Carrboro farmer whose family has cared for generations of rams that have become mascots for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was clinging to life Monday following an accident on his farm.
Rob Hogan, 54, fell Sept. 15 as he stepped off his tractor. He woke the next morning unable to move his left leg and has since endured a series of surgeries, according to his family.
He was listed in critical condition Monday at UNC Hospitals, suffering from a condition in which damaged muscle tissue dies and releases toxins to the kidneys.
Hogan's grandfather started the tradition of painting the horns of a male Dorset sheep in UNC's school color in 1924 to serve as a mascot, named Rameses, at athletic games. The Hogan family is now up to Rameses XVIII.
"It's a unique mascot, this ram that we see on the field with the blue horns," UNC senior Zack Tyman said. "That's our manifestation of our school spirit, and it's a very important part of UNC."
"(Rameses has) always been such a big part of the Carolina community," UNC senior Torri Staton said. "We all walk around with our horns on and wear our Carolina blue like his horns."
Because of Hogan's illness, Rameses didn't make it to UNC's Sept. 18 home game against Georgia Tech. The athletic department has left it up to the family as to when they are ready to bring Rameses back.
Family members said it is unlikely that Rameses will make an appearance during UNC's football season this year.
Hogan's family is updating his progress on the Caring Bridge website. As of Monday evening, there had been almost 23,000 hits on the site, with many people offering well wishes.
"To him, (I say) 'I hope you pull through. Everybody on campus is wishing you well,' and to the family, 'You know our hearts and prayers are with you,'" Tyman said.
"We are hoping and praying for you to be better, and we always love you," Staton said.