UPDATE: What it's like on the other side of 'The Wave'

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Wyatt Hemphill, who's become something of an unofficial poster child of the newest Hawkeye Football tradition, "The Wave", is back home after his recent stay at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Wyatt is from Marion and suffers from a rare immunodeficiency disorder called Hyper IgM. (Courtesy: Hillary Hemphill)

A picture of Wyatt watching The Wave during Iowa's game against North Texas became almost iconic. The Marion four-year-old was captured in the image peering down at the near 70,000 inside Kinnick waving back at him.

Family posted the images on Facebook. Users did the rest, sharing them thousands of times.

"That night it already popped off at like 600 shares or something like that. The next day, over 1,000 shares," said Brandon Hemphill, Wyatt's father. "It went ballistic. We weren't expecting anything like that."

Wyatt's parents also weren't expecting the national press to be so interested. In the last couple weeks, Inside Edition, Fox and ABC News all shared Wyatt's story, bringing attention to Wyatt's condition.

He suffers from something called Hyper-Immunoglobulin M (Hyper-IgM). The rare immunodeficiency disorder means Wyatt has trouble creating antibodies to fight off disease, which is why he wears the mask for protection.

Wyatt's had a bone marrow transplant to help, but the donor cells are struggling to take hold. He may need another. Wyatt's mother, Hillary Hemphill, said The Wave her son was a part of came at just the right time.

"He has been such a tough little guy through all of what he has been through," she said. "I could see in his face how tired he has gotten and the wave brought light back to his eyes."

Those who want to help Wyatt's family with hospital costs can check out the GoFundMe link under the "Related Links" section of this page.
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We've seen countless videos of the new Hawkeye Football tradition. But how does it feel to be on the other side of "The Wave?"

Ask four-year-old Wyatt Hemphill. He was watching thousands of Hawkeye fans wave at him and other kids at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital during Saturday's game.

The new tradition calls on Hawk fans to wave at the pediatric patients inside the recently finished hospital, which peeks over the top of Kinnick Stadium, at the end of every first quarter.

Wyatt is from Marion and suffers from a rare immunodeficiency disorder called Hyper IgM. Because of it, the child's body has trouble creating antibodies to fight off disease.

He recently had a bone marrow transplant and may need another.

"He is having a tough week this week," said Wyatt's mom, Hillary Hemphill. "Seeing everyone wave up to him made him feel so special."

Hillary said it was hard to put into words exactly how much the wave meant to her son.

"He has been such a tough little guy through all of what he has been through," she said. "I could see in his face how tired he has gotten and the wave brought light back to his eyes."

The Hawkeyes will face the Nittany Lions of Penn State, Saturday, September 23 at Kinnick. The game will be televised on KCRG-TV9 at 6:30 p.m.


Wyatt is from Marion and suffers from a rare immunodeficiency disorder called Hyper IgM. (Courtesy: Hillary Hemphill)
Wyatt is from Marion and suffers from a rare immunodeficiency disorder called Hyper IgM. (Courtesy: Hillary Hemphill)