DeKALB – Diesel, Northern Illinois University’s former mascot, will be honored before the Huskies host Eastern Michigan at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Diesel died from lymphoma in 2015.
Diesel was NIU’s mascot from 2005 to 2013, making regular appearances at football games until his passing Sept. 6, 2015.
He gained national recognition after he appeared on ESPN in 2013 high-fiving a cheerleader. The bronze statue, designed by Renee Bemis, captures the moment and will be placed outside the Northwest corner of Huskie Stadium.
NIU alumni helped set up a GoFundMe page in May 2016 with a goal to raise $25,000 for a statue to honor Diesel. Tom Bonnevier, Diesel’s owner, is part of the committee running the project.
“[Diesel] loved being there with fans,” Bonnevier told the Daily Chronicle in a 2015 interview. “He loved NIU football.”
In the same 2015 story, NIU athletic director Sean Frazier said Diesel would run up and down the field after every Huskie touchdown.
“There aren’t a lot of living mascots out there, and he epitomized acting the part and getting fans engaged,” Frazier said. “He will be missed. Diesel is a part of our tradition, and he’ll never be forgotten.”
The unveiling of the statue is set for 5 p.m. Thursday.