Often, when the University of Iowa is mentioned on our opinion pages, it’s because something, in our view, is going wrong. It’s the nature of the news business and of editorial writing. Problems tend to draw our attention and ink.
But last weekend, something went very right. It drew our attention, along with the nation’s.
On Sept. 2, the Iowa Hawkeyes opened their football season at Kinnick Stadium, marking the first game visible from the 12th floor of the new University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Dozens of pediatric patients and their families took in the view, along with a tailgate spread, as Iowa took on Wyoming.
And at the end of the first quarter, the stadium’s crowd of more than 68,000 people turned, looked up at those 12th floor windows and waved. Hawkeye fans waved. Wyoming fans waved. Patients and their families waved back.
It was such a simple gesture, but also an enormously heartwarming moment.
“I’ve got to tell you, it was really something,” Leigh Ann Kennedy told The Gazette’s Vanessa Miller. Kennedy’s 8-year-old son was among the patients who watched from the 12th floor and waved back.
A great new tradition was born. More than a few already are calling it one of the best in college football. And it all started with a Facebook post.
Hawkeye fan Krista Young floated the “wave to the kids” idea on the “Hawkeye Heaven” Facebook page. The page’s founder, Levi Thompson, embraced the idea and promoted it for months to tens of thousands of followers.
The idea took flight in Hawkdom. Fans were so eager to kick off the tradition, they didn’t wait for an official public address announcement directing them to wave. When the first quarter ended, the waving began without prompting.
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It’s received loads of positive national attention, from ESPN, the Today show, the Washington Post and countless media outlets. It’s put a new shine on Iowa Nice.
But the most important audience for Iowa’s new tradition will be looking down from those windows on autumn Saturdays, when the Hawks are home and their faithful exchange a simple wave with the kids on the 12th floor. From now on, it will really be something.
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