A Tradition Greater Than Football

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Lauren O'Brien
A full football stadium at the University of Iowa. The marching band is on the field and many fans are wearing black and gold.

It’s a Saturday in the fall, the weather is a crisp fall breeze in the air. Melrose Avenue is crowded with tailgates, food trucks, fan shops, and the colors black and gold flood the sidewalk and streets. This is the scene of an Iowa Hawkeye Football game day. As a student coming to the University of Iowa, this was the experience I could not wait to have. I could barely wait to start attending the tailgates, spending time with my friends, and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play on Saturdays.

Inside the stadium, a tradition takes place every game after the first quarter – the tradition that is greater than football – the Hawkeye Wave. This is the moment in the game where the team, fans, and opponents wave to the patients in the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, which sits adjacent to the Hawkeye’s Kinnick Stadium. This is the moment in the game where the teams come together and support the children and families who are receiving care.

As a student that has experienced this chilling moment, it has taught me that there are greater things in life than going to football games. No matter how many times I have had this experience, I have chills rush down my body. I’ve taken three inspirations from the Hawkeye Wave: to be thankful for what I have, to give back to the community, and finally, to smile and wave.

Be Grateful

One way I show gratitude is by writing down three things I am thankful for in a journal before bed. This has allowed me to reflect on my day and be thankful for what I have and not dwell on what I do not have. Other ways I show gratitude is by reaching out to friends or family who I haven’t talked to in a while and letting them know I am thinking about them and hope they are well. If you are reading this, it is your reminder to reach out to someone you haven’t talked to in a while, share how much you appreciate them!

Give Back

As a college student, I have many opportunities to give back to those in need. A few ways I have done this is by creating cards for cancer patients, volunteering at a local elementary school, and participating in blood drives. I am fortunate to be on a campus that offers and advertises so many ways to give back to the community. Even though I may not be recognized for my efforts, I appreciate the feeling of knowing I have helped individuals in my community. I am working to encourage others to seek out opportunities to give back to the community because I believe no matter who you are, you have a gift to share with this world.

Smile and Wave

From a young age, my mom always told me to treat others with kindness. One small way to show kindness is through simply smiling and waving. If you know the person, greet them with their name and tell them how great it is to see them. If it is a stranger, just take a second to smile and wave. At the end of the day, you never know who may need the extra positivity and kindness.

I find these three actions – keeping a gratitude journal, volunteering, and greeting others – help make me feel a little more fulfilled. Every small act of kindness can make a difference.

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