Lifelong Hawkeye fan Dylan McGivern ready to appear at Kinnick Stadium as final Kid Captain of 2022 season

The 10-year-old, who was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at 3 years old, is currently participating in a clinical trial through UIHC.


Grace Smith

Kid captain Dylan McGivern grabs a signed shirt from Iowa defensive back Terry Roberts during Iowa football’s Kids’ Day at Kinnick in Iowa City on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022.

Eleanor Hildebrandt, Senior News Reporter

Dylan McGivern won’t be alone when he takes the field at Kinnick Stadium on Friday.

While 55 friends and family members sit in the stands and cheer him on at the Iowa-Nebraska game, Dylan will be carrying his grandfather’s legacy onto Duke Slater Field.

His mom, Carly McGivern, said her dad, who died about a year ago, was a die-hard Iowa fan.

“The thing that [Dylan] got really emotional about when we surprised him with the news was that my dad passed away last year,” Carly said. “I had talked to my dad toward the end, since he had cancer and we knew he didn’t have a lot of time. I told him it was my goal to get Dylan as a Kid Captain. He knew and he never got a chance to take Dylan to a game, but being the Kid Captain is going to be really cool.”

Patrick McGivern, Dylan’s dad, said in an email to The Daily Iowan that Carly and her dad always talked about nominating Dylan before her dad’s passing.

“His mother grew up going to Hawk games since her dad was a longtime season ticket holder,” he wrote. “They would spend Saturdays in Kinnick and travel the country going to bowl games. It was always something Dylan’s grandpa wanted to do with Dylan. However, cancer made it so those trips never happened. Kid Captain nomination was something my wife and her dad always talked about for Dylan. Not only is this a great way to recognize a great kid, but Dylan is using it as a way to remember a grandfather he loved dearly.”

Dylan picked his song for The Wave because of his grandfather. When Dylan told Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras the song he picked, Petras said he loved the song and was a fan of the artist.

“The song we picked is ‘Til you can’t’ by Cody Johnson,” Dylan said. “I picked that song because it supports my grandpa.”

Dylan and Patrick saw Johnson in concert at Xtream Arena in Coralville in March. Carly said the song reminds her and Dylan to live in the moment because people never know how much time they have.

Dylan and his younger brother, Brady McGivern, were both diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a condition that causes progressive muscle degeneration, when Dylan was three. The family drove from Dysart, Iowa, to the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital after Dylan didn’t meet developmental milestones at a regularly scheduled appointment with a pediatrician.

Carly’s brother had Duchenne, so she knew her children could be affected by the condition.

Since they were diagnosed, Dylan and Brady have gone to Stead for care or attended clinics in Cedar Falls, Iowa. A team of physical therapists, nurses, doctors, social workers, respiratory therapists, and a nutritionist regularly treat the McGivern boys.

Professor of Pediatrics-General Neurology at the UI Carver College of Medicine Katherine Mathews is a member of the treatment team and has known the McGiverns since the boys first received their diagnoses.

“I always think about the two of them together because they’re always playing and being brothers,” she said. “They’re a great family.”

Dylan broke his leg earlier in the fall, Mathews said, which is a major complication for individuals with Duchenne — a disease that only affects boys.

“He fell and broke his leg recently, so he uses a power wheelchair now,” she said. “Most boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy eventually lose the ability to walk independently somewhere between ages eight and 12 or slightly later. He would still be walking, except for the fall. Breaking a leg is often an event that kids don’t recover from with this disease … It’s a big stressor, so I’m thrilled he has something exciting and positive to look forward to like being a Kid Captain.”

Carly said the family is currently moving into a new, more accessible home. The family should complete their move by Dec. 1.

Dylan is currently participating in an international study for a drug to help children with Duchenne. Carly said Dylan chose to be a part of the trial after discussing it with Mathews.

Dylan loves football and baseball, but because of his diagnosis and declining mobility, he can no longer play either sport. He wants to be a sports announcer or a coach when he grows up.

As Dylan prepares for his moment to hype up Hawkeye fans on the field Friday, Carly said his immediate family reached out to dozens of extended family members, close friends, and even a few of Dylan’s teachers to see if they wanted to help Dylan celebrate the game. So, Dylan will have supporters from across the country at Kinnick watching him be honored.

On Friday, Dylan will sit in the wheelchair-accessible seats in the south end zone behind the student section and Hawkeye Marching Band. Dylan recently started playing drums in his school’s band, so he’s excited to see the HMB in action.

He said he’s ready to don his Kid Captain jersey for his first in-person Iowa football game.

“Seeing the field and meeting all the players will be cool,” he said. “… The players are so big, that’s what I thought when I met them [at Kids Day]. I’m excited to go again.”

The family will be tailgating before the game, where Dylan’s favorite chicken wings will be catered in from Buffalo Wild Wings.

“We’re just making it about him and having a good time with everyone,” she said. “We were just shocked that so many people were going to come. I’m glad we asked and found out how many tickets we needed early. Then, the athletic department was really great trying to get these together. I think we’ll take up 2 1/2 rows of the south end zone, but we couldn’t be more excited.”