Most of the 44,248 at Qualcomm Stadium Oct.8 were cheering for San Diego State. Except for a few hundred Horned Frogs fans making noise each time TCU made a play.
One of those fans was Nathan Farmer, a braces-wearing 12-year-old from Alpine, Calif., who became a dedicated Frogs fan at the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Farmer was named an honorary TCU team captain that day by the Make-A-Wish Foundation as the Frogs beat Boise State.
Nathan and his mother, Cindy, were on the sideline cheering on the Frogs again, just over a month after Nathan returned from Michigan where he had major surgery to re-implant his one remaining kidney. He proudly showed off the still-healing scars across his abdomen.
Nathan was feeling no pain, only joy. He's a devoted Frogs fan and was reveling in TCU's 27-14 win from a special view on the sideline, thanks to TCU and director of operations Mike Sinquefield. He even got to see his favorite player, TCU running back Ed Wesley, rush for a season-high 146 yards.
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Nathan was wearing the same LaDainian Tomlinson TCU jersey No. 5 with his name on the back that he was given back in 2008.
"TCU sent him edible arrangements in Michigan [while Nathan recovered for nearly six weeks]," Cindy Farmer said. "They wrote on his care page. They're awesome."
TCU has stayed in touch with Nathan since 2008, sending him birthday cards each year with personal messages from coach Gary Patterson. Nathan was a guest of the team when the Frogs last played in San Diego in 2009 and invited him back last week. Nathan got to hang out in the Frogs' locker room after the game and add to his autograph collection.
"It shows you how small the game is when it comes to something like that and a kid who is fighting for his life," said Patterson, whose youngest son is 12. "I deal with someone's kid every day. It doesn't matter if they're 12 years old or 22 years old. It makes no difference."
It is unlikely TCU will be making any more trips to San Diego after the Frogs move to the Big 12. But they won't forget about Nathan.
"They've kept him fighting for what he needs to fight for," Cindy Farmer said.