14-year-old superfan can’t make it to games after van stolen
East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers and KPD are looking for any tips that can lead to the arrest of the person who stole the family’s red van.
KODAK, Tenn. — Mason Millsaps is known by family, friends, and fans by the nickname his brother gave him, ‘Noody’, short for noodle.
He is diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a rare chromosome condition that affects his immune system and speech. However, it has no effect on his energy level, which remains consistently high.
“He’s just kind of wild and crazy. And always, always, always in a good mood,” said Carrie Millsaps, NooDy’s mom.
NooDy is known for giving hugs to everyone in sight. His mom said he’s never met a stranger.
“He doesn’t see how rich or poor you are, he doesn’t see how smart or dumb, he just sees everyone the same… unless you’re wearing a baseball uniform,” Carrie said.
NooDy is a big baseball fan.
The 14-year-old has amassed more than 8,000 likes on his Facebook page, Cup of NooDy, and even went viral for a video of him playing catch with a Smokies baseball player.
That’s what NooDy is most-famous for. He is a Tennessee Smokies Superfan!
“His life completely revolves around playing baseball, watching baseball, and collecting baseball memorabilia,” Carrie said.
She said they rarely miss a game because they bring NooDy so much joy. But, this past weekend the family’s Section 107 seats sat empty.
“It’s lonely. It’s totally lonely. We’re so used to having him here,” said another Smokies Fan, Heather Curtis. She said she’s been friends with the Millsaps’ for five years.
A few rows up, Andrew Brown, another season ticket holder said he always looks forward to seeing NooDy.
“He’s just a gift to the ballpark. And he’s a good kid. He’s always smiling,” Andrew said.
The Millsaps didn’t make it to Sunday’s game. Instead, they had to watch it on TV — and not by choice. On Friday, when they were driving back from the Smokies game, their red van broke down.
The family pulled over to the side of the road and had to call their oldest son to come to pick them up. The van stayed on the interstate and was locked.
“We went back 12 hours later and it was gone,” said Wesley Millsaps, NooDy’s dad.
Wesley called authorities to check and see if it got towed.
“They told us it hadn’t been towed, that it probably had been stolen,” Wesley said. “And they said it more than likely couldn’t be recovered.”
In addition to the van being stolen, NooDy’s special walker he nicknamed ‘red’ was in there as well.
“It hurts him to walk and then stand if any he’s got to stand still,” Carrie said. “It’s hard for him. He can’t stand in lines and stuff. He’s constantly got to be moving because of his balance.”
Also, inside the van was a priceless, irreplaceable glove.
“He had a one-of-a-kind glove given to him by one of the players several years ago that we had forgotten to take out of the van,” Carrie said. “I have been checking Craigslist for the glove-like crazy. The stroller can be replaced, and everything can be replaced except for the glove.”
The day the van was stolen, community members and Smokies fans banded together to raise money to get the family a new vehicle.
A GoFundme was started to help them get back up on their feet after the theft.
Just three days after the incident, more than 75 people donated more than $6,000 to help the family get a new vehicle.
“The support of the local community and the baseball community has shown us has been unreal,” Carrie said.
But, as they’re waiting to get a new vehicle, NooDy isn’t able to go to Smokies games.
“I just really hate that he has to miss it right now,” Wesley said. “Because you can tell that he’s missing the baseball.”
Everyone wants to see him back in his happy place.
“You look down there and expect to see him, you expect to see his glove,” Andrew said. “Hopefully, we’ll get him back out to the park soon.”
Heather agreed, she said it’s not the same without the Millsaps there.
“I told them if they don’t have a way to get here we are going to pick them up. So they are coming,” Heather said.
If you want to help the Millsaps family get a new vehicle, you can donate to their GoFundme here.
The Knoxville Police Department is looking for tips to find who stole the van.
If you have any information on the location of the van, stroller or baseball glove — or who did this — you can remain anonymous when you submit a tip to East TN Valley Crime Stoppers at www.easttnvalleycrimestoppers.org.