Hawkeye Wave inspires 9-year-old to donate his life savings to UI Children's Hospital

Angela Ufheil
The Des Moines Register

The Wave is officially the gift that keeps on giving.

The Wave — in which fans turn to wave at the kids at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital after the first quarter of Hawkeye home games — only began this year, but it's quickly become a favorite Iowa football tradition.

And the story keeps getting better. After seeing the Wave on television, Riley Lafrenz, 9, of Indianola, decided to donate his life savings to the hospital.

MORE: Hawkeye Wave gets standing ovation during NCAA football awards

During an interview Friday night, Riley said he was inspired to donate his $34 because he saw how happy the Wave made the children at the hospital. Riley, a third-grade student at Irving Elementary School, said he hopes other people will donate money like he did. 

"I really wish all those kids could come out the hospital cancer-free and see their family instead of sitting in the hospital all day," he said. 

According to a post on the UI Hospital's Facebook page, Riley's money was supposed to go toward a pack of NFL cards. But Riley's mom, Missie, said donating to the hospital became more important to him.

He sent a note along with his donation:

Hi! My name is Riley. The reason I sent the money is that when I watched a Hawkeye football game I saw a kid that had cancer and I felt sad, so now I realized that you need the money more than I do. From your friend, Riley. Go Hawks!!

The Hawkeyes wrapped up their regular season on Nov. 24 and head to New York for the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27.

But the spirit of The Wave doesn't have to end with the regular season, especially if Iowans follow Riley's example. It looks like he's already inspired others — Riley's mom said friends and family have sent him more money to donate.

The only thing that could make this better would be an Iowa win in New York. Riley said it best in his letter to UI Hospital: Go Hawks!