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Thousands of Iowa fans wave to kids watching from hospital in heartwarming tradition

IOWA CITY, Iowa — At the end of the first quarter of the Iowa Hawkeye’s inaugural home game, the near sell-out crowd turned their attention from the play on the field to wave at a group of special kids watching from the children’s hospital nearby.

The new University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital is just across the street from the Hawkeye’s Kinnick Stadium and has plenty of windows that look down onto the field. The hospital posted a video of patients looking down as over 60,000 people turned and waved back at them, showing them support as they face difficult times.

According to the Big Ten Network, the tradition grew from a suggestion made on a Facebook page called Hawkeye Heaven that was then picked up as a cause by the page’s Editor, Levi Thompson. Thompson told Hawkeye Nation that the movement to make the wave a tradition developed completely organically.

“I wanted it to be something the fans could accomplish without getting the University or any kind of money backing it,” Thompson said.

Saturday’s game was the first one to take place since the hospital was built near the stadium, but the team has been a longtime supporter of the hospital.

CBS Sports reports the Hawkeyes raised money for the hospital with their “Touchdowns for Kids” campaign, encouraging fans to donate money for every touchdown Iowa makes during the season.

As shown on social media, the team has also made multiple visits to the new hospital already, and even designated one of their patients as a “#KidCaptain,” who joined the Hawkeyes on the sidelines for the game.

The Hawkeyes went on to win the game, defeating Wyoming 24-3. But what is bound to be remembered even more than the outcome of the game is the origin of this tradition, if it continues on through the years.

“This is just the beginning of a great thing,” Thompson told the Big Ten Network, “and I do believe this will become the best tradition in all of sports.”