Todd Fruge, a longtime New Orleans Saints fan who caught Mark Ingram when he jumped into the end zone stands following a touchdown last season at Lambeau Field, died Thursday, June 28, 2018. He was 48.
Fruge was diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2015. He completed 12 rounds of chemotherapy in December 2015, but the cancer returned three months later. This time, the cancer had spread to his lungs and liver. In October 2017, Fruge's friend John Hartmann asked if he wanted to make the trip to Green Bay to watch the Saints take on the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field. Fruge and Hartmann had seats in the first row of Section 133, near the end zone. When Ingram scored a touchdown and looked for Black & Gold fans in the crowd, that's when he found Fruge and Harmann and made a leap right to them, where the two welcomed him with a warm embrace.
"We truly believe that things happen for a reason," Susan Fruge, John's wife, told The Advocate following the game. "Todd needed a pick-me-up with everything going on. God knew what he was doing when he put Todd in the end zone right there. Hopefully this is a good motivator to give him strength to keep fighting,"
Ingram later learned of Fruge's story and welcomed him to a Saints practice in order to meet him and his family.
Fruge, who was a volunteer assistant football coach at St. Michael the Archangel in Baton Rouge, was one of several Saints fans who caught players when they jumped into the end zone following touchdowns last season. The fans were featured in one episode of the team's video series #LoveTheSaints. This is what Fruge said the moment meant to him:
"I was struggling a little bit. Mark scored in the corner of our end zone and we were yelling his name and all of a sudden he looked up and pointed at us and I'm like, 'Oh, my God he is coming.' And sure enough he ran there. It was so surreal and it meant the world to me to be there and have that experience."
Fruge is survived by his wife Susan, his daughters Ashlyn and Londyn and his son Hunter.