Hawkeye fan wave brings joy to 4-year-old patient, family

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One Iowa boy and his family were especially grateful for the Hawkeye’s newest football tradition that sees thousands of fans stand in their seats at Kinnick Stadium and wave to the patients inside University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Wyatt Hemphill, 4, was watching from his hospital bed near the end of the first quarter on Saturday and happily waved back.

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“First time he actually smiled and giggled since we been here,” Hillary Hemphill, Wyatt’s mom, posted on Facebook. “This is such an amazing thing. He felt so special! Thank you to everyone that waved! I had tears in my eyes. Even through everything he smiled.”

Wyatt, who has a rare immunodeficiency disorder and recently underwent a bone marrow transplant, had his bed moved near the window so he could see Hawkeye fans wave at the end of the first quarter. The tradition is new this season, and reportedly came from a fan who posted the idea on Facebook back in June.

“He is having a tough week this week,” Hemphill told KCRG. “Seeing everyone wave up to him made him feel so special. I could see in his face how tired he has gotten and the wave brought light back in his eyes.”

The next fan wave will take place on Sept. 23, when the 3-0 Hawkeyes host the Penn State Nittany Lions.