Lucy Roth brings ‘positive force’ as Kid Captain for the Hawkeyes

When she was 2 years old, Lucy Roth was diagnosed with a softball-sized brain tumor. Now 10 years old, Lucy is taking on the role of Kid Captain with a smile and a positive attitude.


Ryan Adams

Kid Captain Lucy Roth walks onto Kinnick Stadium’s field at Kids Day at Kinnick on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Kids Day at Kinnick is an annual event for families to experience Iowa’s football stadium, while watching preseason practice and honoring this year’s Kid Captains.

Rylee Wilson, News Reporter

At 2 years old, Lucy Roth — who is this week’s Kid Captain in Saturday’s Hawkeye game against Northwestern —was struggling with vision problems, holding books close to her face and struggling to find toys she had dropped.

The Roths, who live in Iowa City, brought Lucy to a pediatric optometrist at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Lucy’s mom, Heather Roth, said they thought the worst that could happen was Lucy needing glasses.

Instead, an MRI revealed Lucy had an atypical meningioma, a tumor rarely seen in children. The tumor was pressing on her optic nerve, causing Lucy to have vision issues.

Lucy had surgery to remove the tumor at age 2 and another surgery at age 6. During her first surgery, she suffered a stroke that left her paralyzed on the right side of her body.

“Even her neurosurgeons have said she’s a miracle. Not everyone would have survived the tumors she had. She’s such a positive force. She’s so strong, even in the face of a nightmare,” Heather Roth said.

Ryan Adams
Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz hands Kid Captain Lucy Roth her football after signing it at Kids Day at Kinnick on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Kids Day at Kinnick is an annual event for families to experience Iowa’s football stadium, while watching preseason practice and honoring this year’s Kid Captains.

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Mariko Sato, a medical oncologist at Stead Family Children’s Hospital, said that the type of tumor Lucy has is exceptionally rare in kids her age.

“Meningioma is a common tumor in adults, but is super rare in kids, especially at 2 years old. We don’t expect this kind of tumor at all in kids … Meningioma is usually known to be a benign tumor that grows slowly, having this big tumor causing symptoms at a young age, that was [previously] unknown,” she said.

The tumor is now stable. Although Lucy is still in physical therapy and has MRI scans every six months, Lucy is ready to take on the role of Kid Captain.

Because Lucy is Kid Captain for an away game Evanston, Illinois, she and her family attended last week’s Homecoming game against Purdue.

Lucy said she enjoyed the gameday experience, where she got to meet players and other Kid Captains. Her favorite players are the Paulsen twins.

“One of my favorite parts of being a Kid Captain was seeing my poster up and seeing all the things behind the poster in the locker room. I liked meeting the Kid Captains and trading our cards, and I liked meeting the players, too,” Lucy said.

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Heather said Lucy has always enjoyed reading the stories of the other Kid Captains as a patient at the hospital.

“We nominated Lucy to be a Kid Captain because we felt like she would be the perfect ambassador both for the children’s hospital and for the Iowa Hawkeyes,” Heather said. “She’s been through so much in her 10 years, but she’s one of the kindest and compassionate people you’ll meet.”

Lucy’s father, Damien Roth, said witnessing the wave from Kinnick instead of from the top floor of the hospital was a special experience for Lucy.

“It was really exciting, [it was] just such a special day. Especially to be able to turn around and wave up to the other kids in the children’s hospital, it signifies how far she’s come,” he said. “She’s still got so much ahead of her, but to be able to wave up to other kids is so special, even though she’s seen it on TV so many times.”

Lucy’s older brother, Jake Roth, described Lucy as a bright kid with a positive attitude.

“I think that a lot of people are inspired by her personality, especially with everything she’s gone through,” he said. “She’s so outgoing and energetic every day. She always wakes up with a smile on her face.”