creators establish fund for Baby Jay, Big Jay
Amy Hurst Rachman, creator of
Baby Jay, waves to the crowd in character with
Big Jay during a graduation ceremony in the early
The creators of Baby Jay are making sure that future
hatchlings have the support they need to cheer on the
Asheville, N.C., resident Amy Hurst Rachman, the original
Baby Jay, has given $5,000 to the Kansas University
Endowment Association to begin the Original Baby Jay
Mascot Fund. The fund will help defray the costs of
the mascot program, including purchasing and maintaining
the KU mascot costumes for Baby Jay and Big Jay. Rachman's
mother, Boca Raton, Fla., resident Marti Daniels Hurst,
has committed an additional $57,000 for the fund through
her estate plans.
The gift coincides with the completion of a permanent
display for Rachman's original costume, which her parents
helped her put together more than 30 years ago. The
original Baby Jay had been stored at University Archives
since the costume's retirement in 1987. A gift from
the Class of 2002 paid for the costume to be mounted
and displayed on the first floor of the newly remodeled
Kansas Union. The display was dedicated during Homecoming
Rachman's inspiration for a Baby Jay came when she
was in high school and visited Lawrence, where she saw
a Jayhawk bumper sticker depicting Big Jay and hatchlings.
The idea stayed with her throughout her freshman year,
when she befriended the student who portrayed Big Jay.
She eventually secured approval from the Kansas Alumni
Association to create the costumeand permission
to wear it.
Rachman said her parents devoted the summer of 1971
to helping design and build Baby Jay. Using the design
she drew on spiral notebook paper, they worked nightly
over the summer to turn her initial concept into a full-size
chicken wire, fiberglass and felt costume. It cost only
$53 to create.
"My parents' enthusiasm for the project was extraordinary,"
said Rachman, c'74. "And my mom's creativity and
talent with crafts really made this all happen. I have
pictures of her on the cement floor of the garage, stitching
Baby Jay together."
A gift from the Class of 2002
paid for the original Baby Jay costume to be mounted
and displayed on the first floor of the newly
remodeled Kansas Union.
Rachman, who was Baby Jay for three years, said the
original costume was much different than those worn
by current Jays.
"My original wasn't flexible," she said.
"I couldn't get my wings to come together. I could
only see out of small holes in the beak and eyes, and
the weight of the fiberglass bounced up and down, bruising
my legs. But it didn't matter. I loved being Baby Jay."
The KU mascots are the ambassadors of the University,
attending hundreds of events each year, she added.
"With this huge role the mascots play in representing
the University comes substantial expenses," Rachman
said. "For example, the costumes require replacement
usually every two years at a cost of almost $5,000.
My family has created this endowment to guarantee our
fine, feathered friends will be able to attend as many
events as possible, and look great while strutting their
The gifts from Rachman and Hurst count toward the $500
million goal of KU First: Invest in Excellence, the
largest fund-raising campaign in KU history. KU Endowment
is conducting KU First on behalf of KU through 2004
to raise funds for scholarships, fellowships, professorships,
capital projects and program support. KU Endowment is
an independent, non-profit organization serving as the
official fund-raising and fund-management organization