MEDFORD, Ore.– If you’ve lived in the Rogue Valley a while, you know one Medford neighborhood goes all out for the holidays. On Cherry Lane and Greystone Court, houses are decked with lights but only one house is where you’ll meet a special holiday character that will delight.
The Grinch has been visiting Medford for the last seven years with the help of Britton Munoz. For the month of December, on the corner of Cherry Lane, he dawns his red coat and green hands and becomes the lovable Dr. Seuss character.
“Growing up as a kid The Grinch always has been my favorite character,” said Munoz. “I didn’t know how it would take but the next thing you know I’m being told by my daughter and friends that we’re blowing Facebook up.”
A retired police officer after over two decades, Munoz fills his time during the holidays providing special moments for families and children. He has his own custom-made mask and says some kids are frightened by his appearance but most of the time children want to give him a hug.
“Better than Santa,” he said. “It just warms my heart to see the joy that I bring.”
Usually, Munoz sets up a food donation to help local organizations but this year there’s something special he would like to ask the community for.
When Munoz was still an officer in 2006, he discovered that his sight wasn’t so clear. After tests, it was discovered diabetes he was diagnosed with since he was 18 was causing problems with his vision. Several surgeries later to try and save his eyes, Munoz became visually impaired.
“I can see somebody standing in front of me but I can’t see their facial features,” he said. “I can’t tell if they’re smiling or what they’re doing I just know you’re there.”
Munoz soon after began to play golf but this time with a disability. He’s become an advocate for visually-impaired golfers and was recently invited to play for the U.S.A. Disability Golf Team at The Caires Cup in Wales. It’s set to be held in September 2020.
The event is put together by the British Inclusive Golf Charity. The charity is run purely by volunteers so Munoz has to find a way to fund both his travel expenses and his sight partner.
“If I have to take a loan out to go to Wales to represent the United States I will,” he said.
Munoz is hoping though he might be able to find some charity from the community. Every day up until Christmas Eve from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Munoz will be out on Cherry Lane as The Grinch with a donation box nearby.
No matter what though, he says he’ll find a way to get there and will continue being The Grinch while he’s at it.
“You know if you don’t want to donate I understand that. I just want you to come by, experience everything with the lights because this is done every year and just come get a picture with me so you have something for next year’s Christmas card,” he said. “That’s the main reason why I do this is to make everyone smile.”
If you would like to donate, you can find Munoz on Cherry Lane or you can donate to a GoFundMe set up for him.
You can also donate to him through Paypal at [email protected]
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NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.