DUBLIN -- Decked out in 49ers red and gold, he walked among the rabid throng of Seahawks faithful, outnumbered but uncowed.
In the wild exuberance of Seattle's Super Bowl victory parade last week the young man, since dubbed "Niner Waldo," endured the boos of rival fans and the occasional toss of Skittles in his direction.
Photos of the stranger-in-a-strange-land went viral, catching the attention of Catherine Tate, a Dublin resident and president of the all-female Niners' booster club Ladies of the Empire. Impressed with the young man's bravery, she offered him a front row seat at next year's Seahawks-49ers game, at midfield of the new Levi's Stadium.
But in a bizarre twist, what Tate envisioned as a modest crowdfunding source for airline fare and hotel rooms, has turned into something much more -- finding a new home for a homeless teen.
"I thought he needs a lot of help and guidance other than a ticket," Tate said. "This one just fell out of the sky into our laps, and there's no way we could turn it down."
Dubbing him "Niner Waldo" for his striped stocking cap and sore-thumb obtrusiveness, it didn't take long for Tate to track down the superfan through Facebook, where she discovered his real name is Ronnie Andrews. He's 15 and a ward of the state living in a Kirkland, Wash.-area shelter.
A social worker Andrews identified as his said she wasn't allowed to provide details on her clients.
As the story hit the national and social media, money began pouring in. It began with a $5,500 goal and has reached nearly $40,000. Most important, five licensed foster care families have stepped forward, Tate said, meaning not only will Andrews have his pick of a new home, but four other kids will likely have placement options.
"It's awesome," Tate said. "We've saved a life. And not just his life ... five lives are going to be directly, positively affected right now. ... I can only imagine how far it's going to go."
Donations continue to arrive from across the country and beyond, including from players and fans of other teams admiring Niner Waldo's courage. Seahawks fans have donated a significant portion of the funds.
"I have a new respect for the 12th Man," Tate said, of the Seahawks fan base.
According to Tate, Andrews planned to meet friends at the parade but lost them and decided to go it alone. The photographer who snapped the viral photo, Jay Adams, is a Seahawks fan who traveled to the parade from Vancouver, British Columbia.
"I try to pay attention to stuff that's outside the norm and can start a conversation," Adams said. "When you see a kid dressed up as a Niner fan at a Seahawk parade, it gets your attention. ... It went nuts from there."
Tate's offer to take in the next big rivalry game with Andrews at the new stadium still stands, but with the teen's basic needs -- school supplies, clothes and possible foster home -- addressed, efforts have turned to creating a college fund. The goal is now $50,000, but collections will continue as long as funds keep arriving.
Andrews won't be able to touch the money until he turns 18, said Tate, who plans to create a trust fund to ensure it's spent on college.
"Niner Waldo" is being restricted from communicating, including on the Internet, for his own safety and privacy amidst the media storm, but Tate said he is "overwhelmed."
"He said 'I want to help other kids like me,'" Tate said. "He's shocked and blown away that strangers want to help him."
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.
FUND 'WALDO' now
To make a donation to the Ladies of the Empire's "Niner Waldo" fund, go to www.gofundme.com/get-niner-waldo-to-sf. For more on the Ladies of the Empire, go to ladiesoftheempire.com or the group's Facebook page.