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All TCU. All the time.

TCU 360

TCU alumni connect with each other at Guy Fieri’s Dive & Taco Joint in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. on Friday Oct. 7, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Tristen Smith)
How TCU's alumni chapters keep the Horned Frog spirit alive post-grad
By Addison Thummel, Staff Writer
Published May 11, 2024
TCU graduates can stay connected with the Horned Frog community with alumni chapters across the nation.

Patterson left Fort Worth better than he found it

TCU head football coach Gary Patterson places frozen turkeys into the trunk of a vehicle as he joined other volunteers distributing food during a Tarrant Area Food Bank mobile pantry event in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Thanksgiving holiday food items were distributed to over 5,000 families during the event that took place in a parking lot outside AT&T Stadium. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Even 181 wins, 18 bowl appearances, 11 bowl wins, 10 seasons of 10-plus wins, 22 coach of the year awards or even a 2011 Rose Bowl victory does not tell you everything you need to know about Gary Patterson’s legacy in Fort Worth.

After 25 years of being part of the TCU football program as an assistant and head coach, Patterson’s influence off the field has been arguably as big as his influence on the field.

Amidst a schedule that had him in the office, on the field or on the road recruiting seven days a week, Patterson always made time to help others, making it clear that his time at TCU was about more than himself.

“Whether you’re in football or outside of football, humility is a lost art anymore,” Patterson said during the 2020 season. “Humility actually makes you really good. You’ve got to have confidence, but you don’t need to have arrogance.”

Here’s a look at some of the biggest ways the legendary head coach left his mark on Fort Worth during his time at TCU:

The Gary Patterson Foundation

Soon after Patterson was named TCU’s head football coach in December 2000, he started the Gary Patterson Foundation to help underprivileged children in the Fort Worth area through grants and scholarships.

The foundation’s mission statement reads: “One program at a time, one campus at a time, and one CHILD at a time, the Gary Patterson Foundation strives to make a difference in our community through better education opportunities.”

While Patterson is the chairman of the Gary Patterson Foundation, his wife, Kelsey, keeps the foundation going as the secretary, treasurer and manager of daily operations.

Though the foundation has helped countless schools in Fort Worth ISD since its founding, in 2011, the Gary Patterson Foundation partnered with George C. Clarke Elementary to test new educational programs.

The partnership occurred as part of SLANT45, a service-learning project started in 2009 that did significant work to help youth in the Dallas and Fort Worth areas when Super Bowl 45 was played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Since then, several other Fort Worth schools have replicated the programing used at Clarke through the help of Patterson’s foundation.

In 2018, the Gary Patterson Foundation started the Launch Into Literacy campaign to help improve libraries within Fort Worth ISD, putting money towards book collections, technology, and reading programs.

The campaign raised over $500,000 and allowed for each librarian in FWISD to receive funding toward making their school a more thorough reading environment.

In the last three years, the Gary Patterson Foundation has continued to support Clarke and FWISD as a whole while also giving to other causes like Dream Outside the Box, Fiesta Bowl Charities, Hill Community Development Corporation, and Presbyterian Night Shelter.

Just a few months ago, Patterson, who officially became a recording artist over the pandemic, put on a concert at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth that raised $15,000 for the Gary Patterson Foundation to improve Wi-Fi access for children in the Fort Worth area.

The Big Good

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to rage in the spring of 2020, Patterson decided to join with soul singer Leon Bridges, a Fort Worth native, and former “Bachelor” host Chris Harrison to use their platforms to help others in need.

In May, the Gary Patterson Foundation did a virtual fundraiser which raised over $100,000 to benefit The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Tarrant County and the First Tee of Fort Worth. Bridges and Harrison had both played significant roles in organizing the event.

The trio then formed an organization called The Big Good with the goal of using their connections to raise money for nonprofits in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

The Big Good’s first project was to provide meals for over 70,000 people for Thanksgiving 2020 with the help of North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank.

Even amidst his coaching duties during the 2020 season, Patterson made an appearance at one of the events last November to represent the Big Good in handing out meals to families.

Though the event took place during TCU’s bye week, Patterson risking getting COVID-19 and missing the Frogs’ next game demonstrated his desire to truly help the cause.

Patterson said this season that the Big Good plans to feed “80 to 100,000 people” this Thanksgiving.

Similar to his performance at Billy Bob’s, which was also in support of the Big Good, Patterson pairs his musical talents with Bridges’ to host the Big Good Ranch Party in July to raise money for their organization.

Bridges, who was one of the “Give ’em hell, TCU” guests at a home game earlier this year, came to Amon G. Carter Stadium two weeks ago to see the Frogs play West Virginia live.

Later that week, Patterson said that he and Bridges have plans for another music-oriented fundraiser in the fall that will feature local Fort Worth artists.

“We have a couple cool things coming up in April. One in April that we’re actually going to use Sundance Square and be with it,” Patterson said to the media. “It’s going to be really cool, after we get done with spring ball, for a fundraiser. It’s really going to be a great give back to Fort Worth, because it’s going to use a lot of the local artists.”

Frog Family Crisis Fund

Even before Patterson started “The Big Good,” he and Kelsey led the charge in helping those in the Horned Frog community affected by COVID-19 by donating $50,000 to the Frog Family Crisis Fund in April 2020.

The fund was started in 2007 with the goal of helping TCU students and their families in times of need.

Dog advocates

Anyone who follows either of the Pattersons on social media knows they love dogs, as they have been the owners of several rescue dogs.

Kelsey was an advocate for animal rescue well before she met Patterson, and she told TCU magazine in a 2008 interview she always knew any dog she got would be a rescue dog.

Just a few weeks ago, both Gary and Kelsey Patterson used both of their social media accounts to help spread word of a missing dog, Riggins, in the area around TCU.

Helping others in this way is consistently something both Pattersons take time to do with their platforms.

Humble hero

Though Patterson rarely brings up his work off the field, in 2018, the nation recognized the legendary head coach for his time spent helping others.

Following his 19th year as TCU’s head coach, Patterson was named the winner of the Gene Stallings Award, which Dr. Pepper presents annually to a Division 1 coach “in recognition of humanitarian contributions in addition to achievements on the field.”

While Patterson is no longer at the helm of TCU football, his track record of helping others with little desire for praise is a good sign that his off-the-field work will continue just the same.

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