traveler meets Will Rogers
As written by Pat Reeder of the Will Rogers Museum
Elwood, an eternal fifth grader, has traveled
about five million miles in almost three decades, but he’s
not through. Created in Doug Hand’s Rock Island, Ill., fifth
grade, he is on his way to Salina, Kansas, after spending Will Rogers
Days in Claremore.
Elwood and Will
Elwood “directs” guests into the Will Rogers Memorial
He ended his Oklahoma trip with a visit
to Westside fourth grade students of Paula Watson, Kelsey Hanigan,
Michala Kedzior, Debbie Aitken and Pam Powers.
Elwood was introduced to Will Rogers through Carole and Jack Bender
of Tulsa, creators of comic strip Alley Oop and a special Will
Rogers strip last summer.
He was right at home with cowboys, horses,
military and politicians — and Will Rogers. He has met Harry
Carey Jr., Hollywood actor and Rogers’ family friend. He
has been to the White House, to Desert Storm, to the nation’s
Capitol and to Mexico, a place Will often visited.
Elwood has traveled Route 66,
part of which was once called Will Rogers Highway, attended sporting
events and traveled abroad.
At the Will Rogers Memorial, he met special
guests for Will Rogers Days — Kem Rogers, Will’s grandson;
Jennifer Rogers Etcheverry, Will’s great-granddaughter;
Wyatt McCrea, grandson of Joel McCrea who played in two movies
with Will; Charles Banks Wilson, Will artist; and hundreds of
others along the way.
Created in 1980, Elwood’s motto
is “Dream Big” and he travels the world on behalf
of others, inspiring children to believe in a dream, to have the
desire to follow that dream and see it through.
Elwood was created when a parent of one
of Mr. Hand’s students objected to the class reading “Pinocchio,”
the story of the puppet coming to life and having human dreams.
So he decided to make something real.
Elwood teaches that dreams are the purest
form of imagination and imagination is the key that will open
any door. He can’t hear, see, walk or talk; yet he has been
on major TV network shows and radio programs and his story has
appeared in newspapers and magazines around the world.
Through it all he smiles — because
he has been allowed to follow his dream, telling children they
can make dreams come true.
Despite remaining in the fifth grade,
he received a BBD (Bachelor of Big Dreams) from Yale University
in May 1994 and Master of Arts in big dreams from Central Florida
While at the Claremore museum, he visited
with several Memorial touring groups including those from Texas
in Tulsa for the National Preservation Society Conference.
meets Westside fourth graders
Elwood shared his vision of dreams with
Westside fourth graders including Tracy Reeder, son of Tracy and
Roberta; Jacob Ellis, son of Nova and Eric; and Courtney Cardwell,
daughter of Anthony and Vona; before he
packed up and left Oklahoma for Kansas.