BOISE - Amidst the sea of blue and orange at each Boise State football home game is a group of kids who are battling serious illnesses. It's a chance for the kids and their families to get away from the hospital to cheer on the Broncos.
For 15 years, Boise State has partnered with with St. Luke's Children's Hospital for the Bronco Bunch program.
Parker Martinez got to attend his first Boise State football game earlier this month as the Broncos took on Nevada.
"It's pretty awesome," said Parker's mom, Kelly Martinez. "They put together a shuttle bus and everyone jumps on the bus and here we are."
Parker, who has a form of juvenile arthritis and struggles with chronic pain, enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds from the sideline.
"It's really amazing that so many people come to these games," he said.
Jean Mutchie from St. Luke's and Brad Larrondo from Boise State started the Bronco Bunch 15 years ago.
"When you see a little kid or a family smile, and maybe they haven't smiled in days or weeks, but if they can come here, have a smile, meet our players, enjoy watching the team on the blue, that's special," Larrondo said.
Parker thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
"It's amazing to be able to meet some of the players and go out on the turf after the game," he said.
The program is designed as much for the families as it is for the children.
"For their parents who really have the opportunity to have an outing with their family and experience magic on the Blue," said Mutchie.
The program stretches off the Blue too, with players visiting kids in the hospital.
"These guys come in and they make their day and for a lot of these kids it's literally something they remember forever," Mutchie said.
The Bronco Bunch program has served hundreds of families just like Parker's over the past 15 years.
"Hopefully we're going to do it for another 15 years," Mutchie said.
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