Wicall’s Story 

After 20 years as the Spurs’ Coyote mascot, Wicall developed ankylosing spondylitis. Lifting spirits and helping others drives him, which is why he started the local leadership board. 

Rob Wicall spent 20 years as the San Antonio’s Spurs’ Coyote mascot before an arthritic condition, ankylosing spondylitis (AS), forced him to retire in May 2016. At age 45, Wicall is pivoting from costumed character to inspirational speaker. He stirred an audience of more than 600 at the Witte Museum with a 10-minute TED Talk, “Life According to Fur.” 

Wicall is as likeable out of costume as he is in one. The man is a TED Talk come to life – a passionate, compelling story-teller with an irresistible edge. He’s got no job but lots of energy. He lacks clear direction but has lots of ambition. As Wicall puts it, “I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do when I grow up.” 

He grew up with a zeal for drama, athletics and making people smile. If he wasn’t playing soccer or running track at New Braunfels High, he was teaching himself to juggle or ride a unicycle. He performed in theater. He learned to tumble and walk on his hands without taking gymnastics. He figured out how to balance a chair on his chin. 

“I was the kid who stood in front of a mirror and tried to raise one eyebrow,” he said. “I would flip in the grass until I learned to land on my feet. I performed for anyone I could. I was the Coyote before I was the Coyote.” 

He became a water ski performer at Sea World and the mascot for the Washington Capitals. He served as the Spurs’ backup Coyote before assuming the role full time in 2004. The character, you could say, came naturally to him. In 2005, Gameops.com named him Best Mascot of the Year. In 2014, the Coyote was named NBA Mascot of the Year. 

Performing took its toll. Wicall suffered a litany of injuries – once, he fell off five-foot stilts and landed on his shoulder – before the arthritic condition kicked in. His legs grew stiff, and his hips began to freeze. Unable to work, he retired. His wife, Leigh-Ann, works as a government contractor, and the two run a small janitorial business. But that business is not his passion. 

Lifting spirits and helping others drives him, which is why he started a local leadership board to support the Arthritis Foundation and raise awareness for a crippling disease. Wanting to inspire with words, Wicall began jotting down stories. He created a website and started a blog.
“Making other people happy, makes me happy,” he says. 
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The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.

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By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
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- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

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As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.


Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000


Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.


Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.


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