Iowa football's Hawkeye Wave will be honored with national spirit award

Aaron Young
Hawk Central

The Iowa football team will be recognized with a national award next month for its newest tradition: The Hawkeye Wave.

Referees, officials and fans wave to patients at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital during the Hawkeyes' game against Illinois at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017.

Disney Sports announced Monday that the Hawkeyes will be presented with its Spirit Award for 2017 during The Home Depot College Football Awards in Atlanta. You can watch the awards at 7 p.m. Dec. 7 on ESPN.

The Iowa football program is the 22nd recipient of the award, joining past honorees like James Connor, who in 2016 returned to the field with the University of Pittsburgh and became one of the top running backs in the Atlantic Coast Conference after a six-month battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. You can read more about past honorees here.

At the end of the first quarter of every Hawkeye home game this year, everyone inside Kinnick Stadium tilts their heads up and waves in unison at the new University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital built directly next to the stadium. The hospital's top floor features the Press Box Cafe, a rotunda of sorts with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a perfect view of games. 

Iowa Hawkeyes fans wave to the Iowa Children's Hospital at the end of the first quarter during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa won 55-24.

Patients and their families will pack the cafe and watch the Hawkeyes from one of the tallest vantage points in Iowa City. The touching moment has become of the most popular and favorite storylines this season.

"It’s a simple way for 70,000 people to recognize the kids, the parents and hospital staff who are the real champions, fighting every day to overcome significant medical challenges," Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said in a news release. "I’m proud that a kind gesture has had a profoundly positive impact on so many people in our state and the nation."

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Disney Sports Vice President Faron Kelley added in the release that "the impact these fans are having on the lives of those young patients probably can’t be fully measured."

“Waving at them is seemingly a simple gesture but the effect it’s having on those kids should be an inspiration to all of us, and that’s why we so enthusiastically chose the Iowa football program for this coveted award," Kelley said.

Iowa concludes its regular season on the road at Nebraska at 3 p.m. Friday. You can watch that game on FS1.

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