Guest Opinion: A simple wave makes a big difference


Joseph Cress

Iowa fans wave to kids in the Stead Family Children’s Hospital during an NCAA football game between Iowa and Wyoming in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017.

The ‘Iowa Wave’ T-shirt raised more than $440,000 for the Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

The scene that unfolded inside Kinnick Stadium last fall was incredible and unexpected. On Sept. 2, 2017, nearly 70,000 people stood and waved in unison to the patients and their families at the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The day marked the start of a tradition that embodies selflessness, hope, and philanthropy — values intrinsic to the Hawkeye community.

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Like so many, we were moved each time we saw “The Iowa Wave” and decided to create a shirt to celebrate it. A little more than a month later, we launched sales of the “Iowa Wave” shirt to produce a tangible symbol of the gesture that would benefit the children whose smiling faces shone on us each Saturday. At the onset of the project, we hoped to sell a few hundred shirts and donate all the profits to the hospital. We thought it was an unlikely but exciting goal to sell 5,000 shirts and present a $100,000 check to the Children’s Hospital.

Hawkeye fans, friends of the hospital, and generous hearts across the country came together in a resounding manner. And somehow, something as simple as a T-shirt became a visible sign of hope and support. Thousands of people demonstrated that we can accomplish more together and make a real difference in the lives of the children that are treated at the Children’s Hospital. Whether they attended Hawkeye football home games, shared posts on social media, or wore the “Iowa Wave” shirt on vacation, community members demonstrated that “Iowa City Fights Together.”

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In total, nearly 23,000 shirts were purchased generating more than $440,000 for the hospital. Today, each person that wears an “Iowa Wave” shirt backs new and innovative research at Stead through the Iowa Wave Shirt Pediatric Research Fund, in addition to helping UIHCs’ Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Center and expanded and enhanced care in the Child Life Program. We thank you in earnest for your support of the kids at the Children’s Hospital and look forward to celebrating our newest Hawkeye tradition this fall.

— Meighan Phillips (’08 M.B.A.)

Cofounder of the “Iowa Wave” shirt

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