KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Imagine getting to put on a costume every day you go to work, and making people happy. Such is the role that Dan Meers plays as KC Wolf; getting paid to have fun, and be adored by Kansas City Chiefs fans.
But the bigger than life personality behind the costume knows that the fun can be fleeting after he had a near-death experience preparing for a stunt in November of 2013.
"Somewhere up there, and jumped out of those lights," Meers said.
Two years ago, while rehearsing a grand zipline entrance into Arrowhead Stadium, Meers lost the "zip" and fell into the upper deck. He recalled the exact section where it happened.
"Section 324,” he told FOX 4’s John Holt.
“You remember that?” Holt replied.
“Yeah, and the seats are not padded, I remember that as well," Meers said.
He can smile now, but a critically injured Meers faced a long, painful recovery.
"Spent nine days in a hospital and six months hanging out at a physical terrorist, physical therapist, I should say," Meers said.
"Injured reserve" wasn't what the all-pro mascot had planned. "Truman the Tiger" at Mizzou, the St. Charles native got his first job right out of college, as "Fredbird" for the St. Louis Cardinals. That same year, 1990, the Chiefs launched KC Wolf, snapping the one-time college national champion mascot away from St. Louis, launching Meers’ mascot career.
"When I started the job I thought I'd do it a couple of years, then go get a real job like everybody else. Well, I'm still waiting to get that real job if I ever get one," Meers said.
Real job? When you share uplifting messages and laughs at more than 350 appearances a year, making memories even "big" kids cherish, why get a real job?
"I was standing on the sidelines and one of the (St. Louis) Rams football players came to me and he looks at me and he says, 'I remember you,' he said. ''You spoke at my elementary school.' And I'm like, you gotta be kidding me," Meers said.
It's that impact Meers missed most; his painful recovery fueled by the love from fans, his family, and his faith.
"You know what my faith is terribly important. I'll get teary-eyed talking about this. I remember growing up my mom used to say that the most important things in life aren't things. The most important things in life are relationships. And you know what, during this time is when I learned how true that is," Meers said.
A sense of humor fueled him, too. Even in the darkest moments when the roar of an Arrowhead crowd seemed so distant, Meers never lost his love of laughter.
“I've always heard God didn't put us on this Earth to make a living. He put us on this earth to make an impact. I hope to make my living as a mascot. I hope to make my impact as a mascot as well,” he said.
“How much longer can you go?” Holt asked.
“You know what? They're still making ibuprofen. As long as they make that stuff I think I'm gonna be okay,” Meers said with a laugh.