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Robin Huebner, Published January 02 2013

Robin Huebner reports: A Texas-sized wish to come true

HOUSTON - A Fargo boy patiently awaiting a double lung transplant in Texas will have another big wish come true first.

Ten-year-old Jordan Peterson will be in the stands on Saturday in Frisco, Texas, watching his beloved North Dakota State University Bison football team play in the national championship game.

Jordan and his family have been staying in Houston for more than two months after he was put on a transplant list through Texas Children’s Hospital.

Jordan’s cystic fibrosis limits his lungs to functioning at about 20 percent. He’s supposed to remain no farther than an hour’s drive from Houston in case donor lungs become available.

Not only did Jordan’s doctor give his blessing for Jordan to make the four-hour drive to the game, a Bison Hall of Famer came through with free tickets for the family, thanks to a touching appeal from Jordan’s best friend.

Jordan had faith in the Bison all along. He actually asked his doctor back in November about going to Frisco, if or when the Bison made it to the championship game.

The Bison did their part.

But the family was dismayed when they tried to secure tickets.

“I was not liking the prices,” said Jordan’s father, Dan Peterson. “For a while they were in the $200 range on Stub Hub.”

Dan tried getting tickets as a member of Bison Team Makers, but demand was just too high. Then the family got a phone call from someone they hadn’t met, Chad Stark.

The star running back for NDSU in the mid-1980s had heard about Jordan through Hope Lutheran Church. Stark teaches Sunday school there, and one of his students, Grayson Wetch, was Jordan’s best friend and classmate at Oak Grove Elementary.

Stark was asking his students what they wanted for Christmas.

“They were listing the usual things, like Xbox 360. Then Grayson blows my socks off by telling me he just wants his friend Jordan to get tickets to the Bison game in Frisco,” he said. “I started tearing up right there and decided to make it a mission of mine.”

Stark was able to get four tickets for Jordan, his younger brother, Jesse, and their mom and dad. He delivered the good news to the family in that phone call on Christmas Eve.

The seats are good ones, too.

“They’re pretty much on the field,” said Jordan’s mother, Annette Peterson. “First row,” she said.

“I got to talk to Jordan over the phone and tell him where the seats were,” Stark said. “He got pretty emotional.”

Stark also invited the family to join him in tailgating Saturday. Bison Team Makers are putting them up in a hotel in Frisco for two nights.

It will be a welcome change of scenery for the family. They’ve been living in an RV in Houston since they left Fargo in October.

“The RV seems to get smaller the longer we stay,” said Annette.

She is home-schooling her two sons while in Houston, and they keep up with classmates back home at Oak Grove via the Internet.

For now, Jordan is holding his own, going to physical therapy twice a week. Because his breathing has been so shallow for so long, they’re trying to expand his rib cage to be ready for healthy donor lungs when they become available.

“Otherwise,” his mother said, “it’s kind of like trying to fit an inflated balloon into a Coke bottle.”

On Saturday, Jordan will wear the jersey of one of his favorite players, cornerback Marcus Williams.

Come game time, “Those lungs will be yelling as loud as they can,” his dad said.

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