Iowa football fans are doing a new version of The Wave at Kinnick Stadium, and it’s putting smiles on faces everywhere.
Each time the Hawkeyes take the field, the children staying at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital (located across the street) get to watch the game from the top floor. The hospital built a press box up there, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and a café. During Iowa’s home games, families often gather with their children who are patients at the hospital and watch the action across the street.
Iowa’s football fans, knowing that ailing kids are cheering on the Hawkeyes from across the street, have started one of the best new traditions in all of sports. At then end of the first quarter, close to 70,000 black-and-gold-wearing fans now stand up and wave to the children. The children have a birds-eye view of the fans waving to them, and often wave back with their parents and siblings.
What do the kids think of this new tradition? Local news station KWWL shares the story of 4-year-old Wyatt, who had a bone marrow transplant and was feeling crummy. “He wasn’t feeling well on Saturday,” they wrote on their Facebook page, “until all of Kinnick turned and waved.”
The Twittersphere is also loving this new tradition, calling it, “amazing,” “heartwarming” and “the best tradition in sports.”
The new practice follows an eight-year tradition of naming a “kid captain” each game, which allows a current or former patient from the hospital to watch the game on the sideline with the Iowa football team. Each kid captain gets a special jersey to keep as a memento of his or her special day. In addition, fans are encouraged to donate $1 to the hospital each time the Hawkeyes score a touchdown. Last year, the Touchdowns for Kids promotion raised $42,000 for the hospital. Since its inception in 2010, Touchdowns for Kids has raised more than $400,000.
The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospitals provides comprehensive health care programs for children of all ages, from birth to young adulthood. To donate $1 and support the hospital and kids, visit the Touchdowns for Kids page.