‘Iowa wave’ is installed on five Cambus rooftops

The typical delivery of the Iowa wave may be put on hold, but this didn’t stop Cambus transportation services from providing University of Iowa Stead Children’s Hospital patients with a warm greeting.


Ayrton Breckenridge

A University of Iowa Cambus, driving on South Riverside Drive on Nov. 18, has a wave decal on top of the bus to wave to kids when it drives by Stead Family’s Children Hospital.

Grace Hamilton, News Reporter

What started as an idea in a Facebook group soon became reality after Cambus managers installed waving hand graphics onto Cambus roofs, representing the university’s famous ‘Iowa Wave’ tradition.

The wave was dubbed a UI football custom after emerging at a 2017 home game. In a typical year, the wave transpires after a game’s first quarter when both Hawkeye and opposing-team fans and players turn to wave at patients in the Stead University Children’s Hospital that overlooks the stadium. But that tradition was subdued this year without fans in the stadium to wave up to the hospital.

Cambus Manager Brian McClatchey said that five Cambus roofs now host the waving-hand symbol that Stead Children’s Hospital patients can view from rooms in the higher floors of the facility. Installation for this process began on the morning of Nov. 12, and the five newly decorated busses were on the road by that afternoon.

Cambus driver Ben Koch suggested the original idea to the Cambus Facebook group. Koch says that although he didn’t know whether the idea would be financially feasible, he thought it would make those in the hospital happy.

“You never even think about who’s watching you when you drive a bus,” Koch said. “You never think there’s some, like, three-year-old eyeballs staring down at you and you might be their entertainment for the evening.”

Koch’s idea was first inspired by an email Pediatric Teacher at Stead Children’s Hospital Megan Soliday sent to Cambus about one of the toddler-aged patients she works with.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, Soliday wrote that after emailing Cambus about the patient’s interest in their buses, they sent her a goodie bag with a toy bus and other Cambus-themed treats to give the patient.

“The look on this patient’s face when I delivered the goodies was the best,” Soliday wrote. “It’s times like this that I am reminded to keep thinking of the simple things that make the most impact and difference to patients and families.”

RELATED: Doing the Iowa Wave, Marching band forms hand to ‘wave’ to children’s hospital

Although Cambus’ new rooftop-symbol aims to intrigue child patients, Cambus Operations Manager Mia Brunelli says that the wave graphic should appeal to all age groups, remaining identifiable as a universal greeting symbol.

“We ended up keeping it simple, just because even though it was inspired by the children’s hospital and an interaction we had there, there are a lot of places on campus where someone might have that vantage point to see it,” Brunelli said.

UI Parking and Transportation Marketing Communications Coordinator April Wells added that the design process was unique since the university’s wave tradition has not been consistently represented with an official icon.

“Typically, they haven’t had an [official wave design] in the past because the purpose of the wave is for it to be more of a community-type event,” Wells said. “Actually, in this process, the branding team did create an official icon that can be used strategically and during certain circumstances, this being one of them.”

Because of difficulty locating proper material, McClatchey and Wells said they do not see the Cambus roofs being frequently used in the future to display designs and messages. Still, Koch thinks the tops of Cambuses offer an overlooked opportunity.

“We drive a giant billboard, a 40-foot-billboard, and we don’t even use the top surface. So why not incorporate something into it?” Koch said.

McClatchey and Wells agree that Cambus’s graphic project became a special way to spread joy to children and families at Stead Children’s Hospital.

“We’re really proud of our drivers and the ideas they come up with. They definitely see themselves as part of the community,” Brunelli said. “And this is just another example of how they try to — even with their jobs — go above and beyond.”