Izzy the Islander Puts Smiles on Young Faces at the Rise School

Published: May 08, 2015

Izzy the Islander Puts Smiles on Young Faces at the Rise School

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – An avid Islanders basketball fan, Islander Alumnus, and Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi employee, Octavio “O.B.” Garcia, turned his love for the game and his love for the Corpus Christi community into a special event for some lucky local children.

Garcia, who attends most of the Islander Basketball men and women’s games, entered a promotion to purchase Islander basketball season tickets for this upcoming season.   He won one of the top prizes – a visit from Izzy, the University mascot, to any location in Corpus Christi.  He elected to have Izzy visit the Rise School of Corpus Christi on Thursday, May 7, because of his special connection to the school.

“I’ve had three great-granddaughters attend the Rise School,” Garcia said. “The first one, who has Down syndrome, has already graduated.  So has her sister.  And now, I have a third great-granddaughter, Lily, who is currently enrolled at the Rise School.”

“When the kids first saw Izzy, they didn’t know what to think,” said Vanessa Nisbet, Executive Director of the Rise School of Corpus Christi. “When he sat down with them, and got to their level, they were all open arms and excited to come up to him.”

After Izzy said his “hellos” and gave out hugs, he hung out on the playground with the kids.  He spent time on the swings, monkey bars, played chase, and even rode on a tricycle.

Before the Izzy visit, Garcia visited the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Welcome Center and was able to obtain Izzy coloring pages and crayons to take to the school.  He also received coloring book donations from H-E-B to bring to the school for the big day.

“We are honored that Mr. Garcia remembers us here at Rise,” Nisbet commented.  “It is people like Mr. Garcia that help make this school possible, and help the children to blossom.  The children appreciate it and will remember it for years.”

Garcia is a 1954 graduate from the University of Corpus Christi, now Texas A&M- University Corpus Christi.  He currently works as a Teacher Recruitment Coordinator for the College of Education, and has held that role for the past 19 years.  He was inducted in the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008.

The Rise School of Corpus Christi, located at 744 Everhart Road, is a nonprofit organization providing the highest quality of early childhood education services to all children 18 months to six years old, including children with developmental delays or disabilities.