The Man Who Made a Mascot Into a Superhero: A Salute to Clutch

When you think of superheroes, you think of someone who wears a costume and uses their amazing powers to save lives. The term superhero is used to invoke heroism and selfless courage for those in need. In movies, you see Superman flying from the sky to rescue someone who is in peril. In real life, we see Robert Boudwin, the man behind Clutch “The Rockets Bear,” passionately raising awareness for organ, eye and tissue donation and saving lives along the way. 

Robert forged his relationship with LifeGift in 2012 shortly after his father, Paul, received a lifesaving lung transplant. 

“A year and a half later [after the transplant] we found out that the young man whose lungs resided in my father and saved his life were that of 22-year-old Ian Heidemann,” said Robert. “Ian tragically passed in a car accident on Valentine’s Day 2012. I get overwhelmed thinking about it to this day.”

Ian Heidemann not only saved the life of Robert’s father. Ian’s gift saved four other lives and also gave the gift of his right hand to a farmer from Indiana. In a beautiful way, Ian not only transformed the lives he saved, but he touched all of the lives around them. In particular, Robert harnessed Clutch’s loveable “bear” power to create statewide awareness for the Donate Life Texas registry. As a result, Robert took on what some may have considered unimaginable feats to help raise awareness of the cause. 

 “I set a goal of running 250 miles during the month of January,” Robert said as he made the decision to run the Chevron Houston Marathon in full bear costume in 2014. “With your support, I’d like to use this as an opportunity to raise awareness for organ donation.”

Clutch “The Rockets Bear” and the man within the costume ran the marathon with grit, superpower and undeniable passion for saving lives. Once Robert embarked on this incredible journey, he helped to propel the Donate Life Texas registry to more than 8 million. 

“I am one of MANY that can credit Robert Boudwin with my decision to become an organ donor. His passion for this cause was endless and I learned so much from him about the need for donors ,and even more importantly, the unselfish act of sparing someone else's heartache,” said a loyal Clutch Facebook follower. 

Robert is the man who made a mascot into a superhero. Over the past 21 years, Clutch “The Rockets Bear” has widened the smiles of thousands as they watched the Rockets play in the Toyota Center. Clutch has also been seen sitting bedside next to patients offering them hope. If you ask Robert, what are those green wristbands for? He will tell you how Ian saved his father’s life. 

Robert, the man within the Houston Rockets mascot, recently announced his retirement from playing Clutch. LifeGift commends him on all his years of generous service and we are honored to have him as a LifeGift Board member. Thank you for being our superhero. You inspire us to be great.  

“There is an out-of-this-world quality to watch a man and his wife listen with a stethoscope to their son’s lungs inhale and exhale in your father’s chest. That image is forever seared into my mind.” – Robert Boudwin, the man who made a mascot into a superhero. 

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