Everyone needs encouragement and support from others when they are gravely sick, especially children. Even if it’s just a pat on the back or a simple wave, a gesture indicating recognition of what they are going through and support for their recovery can make all the difference.
This is happening in a big way at the University of Iowa, where the Stead Family Children’s Hospital opened this year. It is located right next to the university’s Kinnick Stadium. So close, in fact, that games can be clearly seen from the top floor of the 12-story building. Indeed, an area on that floor is set aside specifically for patients and their families to gather and watch the goings-on within the stadium.
And what they are getting is a massive show of support from everyone in the stadium.
It started with the first game of the season, following a suggestion on a Facebook page for Hawkeye fans that went locally viral. At the end of the first quarter, fans and players turned, faced the hospital, and waved to the kids watching from the top floor. The moment caught on. “A whole stadium turning and waving … it’s huge,” the mother of one patient told USA Today. “The kids just forget about their hospital life for just a few moments.”
“The Wave” is now fast becoming a tradition at the stadium. Visiting teams look forward to participating. And if it’s a night game, everyone uses the flashlight function or strobe on their smartphone to make an illuminated wave.
"It's a great idea to do it for kids with illness," Desmond King of the Los Angeles Chargers, told a newspaper during a visit to his alma mater. "They're probably not able to be out there in the stands, so you want to give them the opportunity to experience the game."
This is the kind of tradition that recognizes the strength that comes from people helping people with encouragement and support. And MassMutual applauds it.
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This article was originally published in November 2017.