'Iowa Wave' returns to Kinnick Stadium as Hawkeyes start a new season

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- For University of Iowa fans, it is always nice to see a Hawkeye win- but it was a little sweeter with the return of the "Iowa Wave."

Families take part in the first "Iowa Wave" of the 2018 football season from University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital in Iowa City.

It seems almost impossible to find an Iowan not familiar with the "Iowa Wave."

What started as an idea on social media to wave up to the children at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, now warms the hearts of those looking down every time.

Families looked down on the packed stadium, taking in the action.
Kids got the chance to play games, have lunch, and just hang out with their families.

Then, after the first fifteen minutes of football, they waved back to all the yellow shirts (and some in red cheering for Northern Illinois University).

Some families traveled from Des Moines or farther to come to the children's hospital. Today served as a chance to smile and take it all in.

"It's a very humbling experience to be a part of that we're excited for," said Bobby Forbes, who traveled from the Quad Cities, watched from above, and enjoyed the game with his family.

As the Hawkeyes battled against the visiting NIU Huskies, families are visiting the UI children's hospital, looking on to a game as their family members battle for healthy lives.

"My fourth child, my water broke at 29 weeks," said Sarah Rodriguez, a mother who was waving with her family for the first time. She called her newborn daughter a "miracle baby."

"I actually have three other miracle babies," Rodriguez said. "I have two other [premature babies] and one full-term at 37 weeks."

"It's always a hard time for families to be in hospitals, we make the daily trips from the Quad Cities up here," Forbes said. "So for the hospital to allow us the opportunity to let of a little bit of steam and come up here and watch the game is an absolutely fantastic opportunity that we can take advantage of."

An opportunity for kids to play games, meet the cheerleaders, and of course, wave.

"It's beyond words," Forbes said. "It just goes to show the type of community that's bred here in Iowa, Mid-America. It's truly a supportive community, supportive team."

"It's just the spirit of being with your family," said Steven Gurling, Rodriguez's father and also a proud grandfather. "I believe that the family is one of the most important things you can have in your life."

The overall experience, especially knowing their families are getting the treatment they need, left them happy for the chance to wave back.

"Oh, I can't even explain it," Rodriguez said. "It's definitely very special. And having my other kids here makes it that much more special."

While those families are in the hospital now, they are optimistic for their kids' next steps. Both Rodriguez and Forbes said their kids are doing great, and they hope to leave the hospital soon.

The NIU Huskies football team also did their part to send their best wishes to those on the twelfth floor- they left a signed team photo up in the "press box." They also wrote all of the kids letters and left them bracelets. The bracelets the families received were identical to the ones the team wore on the field.

All in all, it made for a room full of smiles above Kinnick Stadium.