Clowns are notorious for their over the top magic tricks and balloon animal creations, but Mismatch and YooHoo are not your average clowns. For the past four years, the mother and son duo have been donning their clown ensembles to bring joy to the local veteran community of Long Island through their non-profit organization, Our Heroes Night Out, with special events and varying forms of entertainment.
The idea to begin an organization that would benefit veterans in need came about accidentally. Carol Klein, co-founder of Our Heroes Night Out, and her son Garrett Klein, were hired to perform their clown act for the Northport Veteran Affairs (VA) Medical Center. Their presentation consisted of the usual tricks and stunts, while taking the time to teach the veterans their magical secrets along the way.
“We were making balloons for them, teaching them how to do magic and spending time just talking to them,” said Carol. “They were interested and eager to learn, which was more than I expected.”
Those in attendance were so dazzled by Mismatch and YooHoo that shortly after, Carol received a call from a representative of the Northport VA Medical Center letting her know that she and her son were welcome to the institution whenever they wanted to visit. Carol never expected that this one simple visit would soon turn into more frequent visits, and eventually transform into an entire organization dedicated to honoring and celebrating the courage of the nation’s veterans.
Since its inception in 2012, Our Heroes Night Out has hosted countless gatherings in the form of cooking demonstrations, catered dinners, musical performances, comedy shows, appearances by famed athletes and more. Every event is unique in that it is entirely donation based.
“I don’t ask for money, just anyone willing to share their time,” said Carol. “Everyone we’ve worked with has donated their time and talent, no questions asked, which is amazing.”
The most recent organized event was held at the Old Bethpage Equestrian Center, in which veterans, volunteers, friends and family all gathered and enjoyed a potluck dinner followed by a horse demonstration. Accompanied by the musical stylings of Tom Ryan, a Long Island singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist and all around seasoned performer, the event put a smile on everyone’s faces and generated warmth in their hearts.
“You will never feel so much appreciation in your life,” said Carol. “The biggest reward is when someone comes over and says thank you. I see smiles and know we’re doing the right thing.”
The occasion was coordinated in combination with My SHINE Therapeutic Riding Program, an organization that serves individuals with special needs through horseback riding lessons. My SHINE has also introduced its own cost-free program called Shine for Heroes, which aims to comfort veterans and first responders suffering from the implications of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Carol emphasizes the fact that donations in any form are always welcome. Our Heroes Night Out encourages any interested volunteers to reach out and take a step in the direction toward changing lives. Whether it be a couple of minutes of speaking, tickets for an excursion or food contributions, all charitable acts are greatly appreciated.
For more information, visit mismatchtheclown.com or call 516-579-6524.