Iowa fans wave to kids in the Stead Family Children's Hospital during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Wyoming in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. The Stead Family Children's hospital has an observation floor where families can go to watch games in Kinnick with a skybox-style view. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Doing the Iowa wave

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The Hawkeye football team has started a heartwarming new event of waving at the viewing area of the Stead Family Children’s Hospital, where patients can watch the games.

By Brooklyn Draisey

brooklyn-draisey@uiowa.edu 

The University of Iowa football program started a new practice of having the entire Kinnick Stadium wave at children watching the game from the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital during the Iowa/Wyoming game on Sept. 2.

Children admitted to the hospital could watch the game from the viewing area, and they were greeted by students, fans, and players after the end of the first quarter.

The event has garnered national attention, with ESPN doing a story on “SportsCenter” about the heartwarming moment.

For Zach Poe, one of the children who watched the game from the hospital, it was exciting to even go to a different floor.

“It was just really amazing; even just getting to go up and see the game was such a bright spot in our stay,” said Leigh Ann Kennedy, Zach’s mother. “It gets really boring in a hospital room … he was really getting stir crazy, and antsy, and homesick.” 

Zach is an energetic kid who loves all kinds of sports, especially football, she said. He had been admitted to the hospital with a lung infection, and until the night before the game, he was unable to leave his room. He has since been released.

Kids who viewed the game were treated to snacks, such games as cornhole and foosball, and received megaphones, sunglasses, and other souvenirs. The game was also televised on a flat screen, but those in the room could also see and hear everything on the field. They were also able to watch the band and all the pregame activities, Kennedy said.

“The people on the hospital side were literally right below us, so you could see their faces looking up at us and waving,” she said.

The experience was just as amazing for the students as it was for the patients, freshman Madison Rush said. She was in the student section directly across from the hospital, so she could see the children wave back and hold up signs.

“The best part was definitely when they waved back at us, and they made Iowa signs; that was really cool to see,” she said.

A majority of the students knew about the plan to wave at the viewing area before the game, but many of the fans did not, Rush said.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz was also pleased with the event, though he didn’t witness it during the game, as he said in a statement at a press conference on Sept. 5.

“It’s really a positive event for everybody, and it’s absolutely very heartwarming for everybody in the country to get an exposure to such a great tradition, so we are happy about that as well,” he said at the press conference.

For kids like Zach who couldn’t leave the hospital, getting waved at by everyone at the game was an amazing experience, Kennedy said.

“The whole stadium was participating … it was quite amazing, really a nice way to perk the kids up and just give them a little bit of brightness in their day,” she said.

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