SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Amid the sea of 700,000 Seattle Seahawks fans attending last week’s Super Bowl victory parade a lone member of the 49er Faithful stood out. Efforts to find the young man – dubbed “Niner Waldo” – have revealed a compelling personal story that has brought out the best in fans of both teams.
Social media postings from the event make it easy to see why the fan was drawing comparisons to the “Where’s Waldo” children’s book character.
A group of 49er backers who call themselves the “Ladies of the Empire” found the display so courageous that they wanted to reward the young fan with a ticket to next year’s Seattle-San Francisco matchup at the new Levi’s Stadium and started a fundraising campaign on the website GoFundMe. Organizer Catherine Tate said efforts to track down the young man revealed that the unidentified minor is actually homeless.
“I have just come to learn this kid is only 15 years old, is a ward of the state, and living in a shelter,” Tate said in an update on the fundraising campaign.
Since word of his situation broke, the campaign has blown past the original fundraising goal of $5,500. Donations have been pouring in from fans of both squads. Among the suggested contribution levels are $12 in honor of Seattle fans (known as the 12th man) and $49 for those backing the red and gold.
As of Wednesday morning, the campaign was creeping up on $25,000 and gaining from players, including 49er Safety Craig Dahl:
According to Tate, the excess money will be put in an account for the teen to access once he turns 18. She says he has mentioned hopes of attending college.
“I have spoke with him and he is SHOCKED and moved to tears by the comments and the generosity of strangers,” Tate said in a followup post. “He is extremely appreciative and when he is able he wants to help other children in his situation.”
This is not the first time the ‘Hawks and Niner fans have teamed up for charity fundraising; last month the rivals raised thousands of dollars for childrens’ hospitals in the two cities.