So simple, but so heartwarming.
The wave from Kinnick Stadium to the kids and families inhabiting the top floor of the next-door University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital has captured the hearts of the nation.
At the end of the first quarter of every Iowa football home game, all fans turn and wave to the children in the hospital. The wave has garnered more attention during each game.
On Oct. 7 at Kinnick, on the Illinois sidelines, opposing coaches, players and staff took the time to take part in the blossoming tradition. There stood Iowa's foes, waving to the kids. A look at the center of the field showed the game's referees, standing together and waving.
The Iowa marching band took it a step further with a choreographed segment in which members formed a giant hand that moved from side to side, "waving" to the children and families at the hospital.
The week prior as Iowa played on the road, Michigan State fans at Spartan Stadium waved at the kids through the TV.
During a night game versus Penn State, fans were asked to put their cellphones on flashlight mode for the wave. The result was a lit-up stadium during the wave which, we're sure, brightened the days of those watching from the hospital.
The whole affair had a simple beginning. It is said the genesis was in May when Hawkeye fan Krista Young sent a message to Levi Thompson, the administrator of a Facebook group called Hawkeye Heaven, asking whether he would encourage fans to participate.
Thompson asked fans who had children in the hospital to send photos of them looking down at the stadium. Over the next few months, he posted the photos with a message asking fans to wave to the kids after the first quarter.
The game day tradition started Sept. 2 during Iowa's first home game against Wyoming, and it quickly gained national attention. During the next home game Sept. 16 against North Texas, ESPN delayed the start of a commercial break to show the wave.
Such a simple idea. Fans don't need props of any kind. They simply turn and wave. But the simple action, multiplied by 70,000, is deeply meaningful. It makes the kids feel special. It gives families a respite. And it impacts everyone in the stadium — and even those watching on television — in a meaningful way.
When the new hospital was completed, its proximity to the stadium provided a built-in opportunity to incorporate some kind of gesture.
The top floor overlooks the stadium, giving kids and families an opportunity to take their minds off of illness for a while. It's an excellent view for the games.
Many of the children have stays of several months. Some families are unsure when, or if, their young patients are coming home. The hospital provides the highest level of care for children with chronic conditions. That includes cancer, heart disease, cystic fibrosis and other ailments.
Temporarily, this proximity offers a chance for patients and their parents to forget about their situations and enjoy a football game with a bird's eye view.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, came this special gesture that provides them with a special feeling.
Inside the hospital, the same HawkVision feed that plays on the stadium scoreboard is shown on a four-screen display. There are snacks and games for the kids — along with pom-poms for cheering.
Media have flocked to Kinnick Stadium to record the interaction.
The wave is such a simple gesture, yet so full of class. We're happy to see it become a revered tradition in such a short amount of time. And as the national media continue to pick up the story, we're proud to see it extend well outside Iowa's borders.
Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, another Lee Enterprises publication, Oct. 15.