You see, the World First phoenix mount belongs to Ezra Chatterton, the young man who recently went to Blizzard's offices with the Make-A-Wish foundation. Ezra was given the first ever Phoenix mount in game for two reasons. First, it was probably the best gift that Blizzard could really give any gamer as far as one of the new Outland mounts. Netherdrakes are awesome, but a phoenix trumps that, if you ask me! And hey, who wouldn't want a mount that could move at 310% speed like the Swift Nether Drake arena award mount. Secondly, as Ezra's father Micah explained to me, the phoenix is an extremely important personal symbol for Ezra.
There was some concern about having the mount initially, as Micah was worried some players might be uncool about his being the first to have such a great item. However, I'm glad to report that recently his guild, 32nd Fleet, organized a gathering in Shattrath to help get the word out that Ezra was gifted the World First Phoenix mount. Since then, Ezra's been able to enjoy flying his mount around the skies of Outland.
The phoenix is an image that has recurred in Ezra's life over the years, mostly because it's his middle name, and I think that a person will usually take any chance they can get to more closely connect with their given name. His mother and I named him that because, as teenage parents with an artsy streak, we thought it was cool. But also, the ordeal of becoming a father and mother at 16 attracted us to the concept of resurrection and rebirth, and rising above the ashes of a difficult situation. Not to credit the name per se, but I have always been proud of Ezra's ability to cope with difficult times in his own life. He's been able to go through things, before the cancer, that I couldn't imagine dealing with as a child, and still retain his generous spirit and spark of imagination.
For example, the first thing he said when he saw, from a safe distance, that our house was going up in flames last February was: "But I really liked that house." The second thing he said, seeing my fear and panic start to well up, was: "At least nobody's hurt. It'll be o.k. because we're all safe." It was the kind of thing grown-ups say to each other the next day or a week later to put their loss into perspective, not the kind of thing you'd expect a 9 year old kid to say before the fire department even got there. That's the kind of person he is, and that's the kind of rising up that he does, so when he had the opportunity to choose a phoenix flying mount as the crowning gift for Ephoenix from Blizzard, he took it.
Micah said that the model is "one of the most gorgeous character designs," although Ezra was a little distracted by the phoenix mount model having no feet whatsoever. (I think that would probably make me worry that it would topple over too!) But most of all, Micah wanted to express to everyone how thankful and overwhelmed he is at how the WoW community has reached out to Ezra. As he said in an email to me, "I'm proud of our community, Krystalle, and I am so completely thankful that the prayers and support people have been sending us have given Ezra something good to keep in his mind."
For those interested in helping further, a trust fund has been set up for the medical care of Ezra Chatterton. If you'd like a receipt for the tax deduction, you can send your donations via regular mail to:
P.O. Box 55781
Riverside, CA 92517
Please make checks payable to: "Micah Chatterton, FBO Ezra Chatterton"
(FBO means 'For Benefit Of', FYI.)
Or for those who (like me) are all about the online goodness (and don't generally itemize. heh) you can send your donations to the fund by sending a PayPal donation to "firstname.lastname@example.org".
And if you see a Tauren zooming through the skies above Outland on a Phoenix mount, be sure to /cheer as he whips by. That will be Ezra, undoubtedly on the way to help make Azeroth and the Outland safe from Illidan and all his evil minions.