Nobody since Amon Carter has meant more to football in Fort Worth than Gary Patterson, and a downtown civic club proved it to the former TCU coach Wednesday.
Business leaders in the Exchange Club of Fort Worth donated a record-smashing total of $433,550 to the Goodfellow Fund children’s charity, including a second round of donations that more than doubled the club’s original gift as a special honor for Patterson, forced out after 24 years coaching the Horned Frogs.
Patterson and TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini were watching from opposite corners across a Fort Worth Club banquet room as emcee George Young Jr. stalked table-by-table through a Christmas party crowd of more than 100 executives and investors, telling each to dig into pockets and give a little bit more money for Tarrant County children in need.
In a lightning-fast 2-minute round of giving, the club raised an extra $250,000.
The combined gift to the Goodfellow Fund means new school clothes and shoes for more than 8,000 children.
“These guys are just like so many people in Fort Worth — they’re ready to stand up and help,” said Patterson, 61, a club member drafted by Young to push the club’s gift past its 2019 record of $300,325.
Young picked his way carefully across the room, finally going to Boschini’s table.
Then came the tense moment when Young applied the squeeze, with every club member watching, many of them multi-million-dollar TCU donors.
Young asked: “Victor, you want to put something in?”
“Sure,” Boschini said, pledging an extra $5,000.
Later, Boschini grinned and called the honor for TCU’s former coach “just a total win.”
“We got to honor Gary plus help a lot of kids,” he said. “This was great.”
A generation ago, the Exchange Club’s now-86-year-old Christmas charity benefit was more of a men’s club roast where members teased each other about that year’s football fortunes of the Texas Longhorns and rival Aggies from Texas A&M.
Nobody had said much about the downtrodden Horned Frogs for 25 years. Then, Patterson lifted TCU to national Top 10 rankings, a Rose Bowl victory and Big 12 fame.
“We all know he’s a great ball coach — this man is a philanthropist and a legend for Fort Worth and Texas,” Young said, introducing Patterson and collecting his donations before turning to club members.
Patterson and his wife, Kelsey, have worked with the Tarrant Area Food Bank and the Big Good charity to feed more than 80,000 across the region, Young said.
“We are going to dig as deep as we can to honor this man and what he has done for Fort Worth,” Young said, asking for the second gift.
Young and real estate investor John Goff immediately put up $50,000 each to match every donation from club members.
Earlier in the program, Goff had interviewed retired Navy Seal Capt. Chris Cassidy, director of the new National Medal of Honor Museum to be built in Arlington.
“We are all so blessed,” Goff said. “This is so important to us. This is a time to give back to our community.”
It was another victory for Gary Patterson and Fort Worth.