Meet Rudy the Golden Gnome
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Two huge Notre Dame fans started their own pretty unique tradition nearly a decade ago that involves a special Fighting Irish fanatic.
“It was about September of 2009. We came to Notre Dame stadium and went to the bookstore, and I thought I’m going to buy a garden gnome," said Rick Herrera, who bought the first 'Rudy.'
“One day at work, Rick brought it in...and I was like dude a gnome for what? And he was like to take pictures! And I’m like okay..." said his friend, Evan J. Thomas.
The next time they went to a Notre Dame football game together, they put the gnome on a stump by the lake to take a picture.
“We put him on a stump and took a picture by the lake, and some girls were like oh my gosh is that a traveling gnome? What’s his name? …they were like can we take a picture with him? And thus, he was born," said Rick.
They named him Rudy the Golden Gnome.
Eight years and more than 500 Facebook followers later, Evan says it has turned into more of a spectacle than he's ever thought.
So far, Rudy has been to Mexico, Las Vegas, Old Faithful, Mount Rushmore, Wrigley Field, and so many other places.
He's also met a host of celebrities, like George Wendt, who played Norm on Cheers, Coach Lou Holtz, Keith Van Horn of the Chicago Bears.
Rudy the Gnome has even helped them score what the real-life Rudy calls one-of-a-kind autographs--Sean Astin, who played Rudy in the movie on one side and Daniel Reuttiger, who was the vision behind Rudy on the other.
“We have the first probably Rudy and Rudy autograph," said Evan.
Just like the autographs, the stories are priceless.
“The one time when he broke the very first one, just our expressions when he hit the ground and shattered, so what I actually did was I actually put him together with bandaids," said Evan.
Rick says one of his favorite moments was taking Rudy to the White House.
"Kind of funny, because here I am standing, I carry him in a backpack, and I’m outside the white House and there’s Secret Service and special guards, and I’m standing with a backpack looking like okay I’ve got to take this gnome out. I take the gnome out and I hold it by the fence to take the picture, so that was kind of fun, but I did get the picture," said Rick.
“Where it started to where it is now has been pretty interesting," said Evan.