Carrying each other's burdens
This morning I talked to God about my sweet friend Cade Wegener going through chemotherapy and surgeries for the third time in the last few years. After praying for this amazing young man fighting cancer, I watched the ESPN College Gameday program I had recorded the day before and was reminded of a relevant story from a few years ago. During the first home game of the 2017 season, Iowa football fans at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City united to let patients in a nearby hospital know that they are not alone in their fight. The gesture now known around the world as “The Kinnick Wave” or “Iowa Wave” immediately became an internet sensation.
In the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsela (Kevin Costner) builds a magical baseball field in the middle of his Iowa farm where ghosts come to play baseball. The first player to appear asks “Is this heaven?” to which Kinsela responds, “No, it’s Iowa.” 30 years after the movie, that baseball diamond created for the film is still there in Dyersville, Iowa. Movie fans and baseball fans can come sit in the bleachers or play ball on the same field they saw in the movie. That Dyersville field of dreams is not Iowa’s only sports venue where magic happens. The Iowa Wave at Kinnick Stadium works magic too.
The Stead Family Children’s Hospital opened in the spring of 2017 with a perfect view of the Iowa Hawkeyes football field from its top floor. That top floor was designed to provide an area for pediatric acute care patients and their families to get away from their hospital rooms and watch some college football. The kids there are extremely sick and enduring hardships associated with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries, just like my man Cade.
Krista Young is the Iowa fan who came up with the idea to take a moment during games to encourage those sick kids by turning toward that top floor and waving. She shared her idea on the Hawkeye Heaven Facebook page and the site’s administrator Levi Thompson contacted the university. Ironically, Iowa's head football coach, Kirk Ferentz’s granddaughter Savvy died in that hospital and he and his wife donated $1million dollars to it in her honor, so he supported Young’s plan.
At the end of the first quarter of Iowa’s first home game on September 2, 2017, Young and the other Iowa fans in attendance turned and waved at those sick kids. It was a simple gesture, but one that inspired the patients and their families to press on.
In Galatians 6:2, the Bible tells us to carry each other’s burdens, which is exactly what those fans doing the Iowa Wave do. In that moment when those fans wave at those kids fighting for their lives, they are all in that fight together. Now opposing teams, coaches, referees, trainers, and everyone else in attendance turns to those kids and waves, creating a magical moment of encouragement.