A Jacksonville legend is in need of a heart transplant and the community is rallying around him.
Robert Mattocks, also known as the “Jacksonville Ninja” and “Radio” for his decades-long history of dancing and performing martial arts moves around the city, is in need of a heart transplant, according to a GoFundMe created on behalf of his sister, Juanita.
The GoFundMe’s goal is $7,000 in order to assist Juanita with the medical and travel expenses to and from Chapel Hill. Already, $2,200 has been raised for Mattocks, who is now in his 60s.
The community has taken to social media, with hundreds of comments, shares and prayers being sent out to Mattocks.
“Radio has been in our lives for so many years,” said friend and community member Tara Pearson. “He’s an inspiration to our community and I didn’t even know that he was this ill that he actually needs a new heart, so we’ve got to rally together for him and get something done as much as we can as a community that backs him.”
Friend and community member Joseph Ham told The Daily News that every team needs a mascot, symbol and good luck charm, and Radio is that for the city of Jacksonville.
Not only is Radio that, Ham said, but he’s much more.
“Imagine being out at noon in Jacksonville in afternoon traffic trying to grab yourself a bite to eat and get back to work before the hour is up,” Ham said. “The day is still only halfway over and it’s only Thursday and work is, well, just that, work. You look up through the traffic and you see a ninja on the corner of Western and Marine doing karate, but it’s no ordinary ninja. This is the Jacksonville Ninja, ‘Radio.’ ”
Ham said the sight of Radio immediately brings a smile to his face and puts him in the best mood as he rolls down his windows and yells out to the local icon, who waves before getting back to doing high kicks and karate chops.
“It takes a lot to make someone smile or to make their day in these times, but once you see Radio, you’ll always be on the lookout and ready to yell out ‘Go Ninja, go Ninja, go,’ ” Ham added.
These are just a few of the countless comments and posts being made across Facebook lifting up Mattocks as he goes through this troubling time.
“Radio always had a way of brightening my day when I saw him ‘perform’ on Western Boulevard,” said community member Kelli Kitzmiller. “Always shirtless, even if it was 20 degrees it seemed. I haven’t seen him in years but I am sure lifting him and his sister in prayer and sending love.”
Reporter Morgan Starling can be reached at email@example.com.