Archive for  August 12th 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Overcoming thyroid cancer has given Alyssa Brand a new perspective.

“It first and foremost taught me humility,” said Brand, a Senior – Midfielder on the Drake Bulldogs women’s soccer team. “Driving to the hospital, every day consecutively in a week and seeing other people there who are really sick and like knowing the burden of my family and financially, it just like humbles you.”

It was October 11, 2017, the same day Drake played UNI, when Brand got the bad news.

“It`s hard for a college student to go through that, or really anyone to go through it,” said Lindsey Horner – Head Coach of the Drake Bulldogs women’s soccer team. “But certainly a Division I, college athlete in the middle of the MVC season.”

While Brand had to undergo surgery, she says the challenges she faced were more emotional and mental than physical.

“Physically I was really fine to compete,” said Brand. “The doctors had decided that, so once they sort of cleared me in that regard, it was sort of like up to me to be like, I’m able to play, I need to mentally focus on it.”

And that she did…

Surrounded by the support of her family, coach and team, Brand was able to “Kick Cancer,” and inspire everyone around her. And showing vulnerability was key to the process.

“I think we have some tough players on our team, and I think they think it’s tough to you know just kind of grind through and not show emotion,” said Horner. “Where I think we`re now starting as a group to learn that it’s kind of brave to show emotion and to be vulnerable in front of other people and give them that opportunity to support you.”

“She took this whole thing with so much grace and dignity even,” said Linda Fiorito, a Senior – Defender on the Drake Bulldogs women’s soccer team. “She was brave through it all, never let her attitude drop, it was always positive. She was just incredible and it’s definitely inspiring to all of us, that if she can go through that, we can go through anything on the soccer field, any other challenges that we`re facing in our life.”


IOWA CITY, Iowa — College football season is approaching and Kinnick Stadium had a different swarm on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes spent the day welcoming their kid captains to the stadium. The Kid Captain program is celebrating its 10th year this year.

“It’s a decade of recognizing what these kids and their families go through every day. So it gives them a chance to come to Iowa City and do something really fun and exciting,” said Cheryl Hodgson, Director of Marketing for the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. “Sometimes their trips to Iowa City aren’t as much fun.”

The 13 kid captains represent all the children who received treatment at the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s hospital.

The Kid Captains toured the football facilities at Kinnick Stadium, met the players, and got jerseys they will wear during their games.

“They are really representing all of the children we care for at the hospital. So, there have been 134 kid captains over the last ten years and we hope we have many, many more to come,” Hodgson said.

Three Central Iowa kids were picked to be Kid Captains. 13-year-old Gabe Graber of Prairie City, 6-year-old Harper Stribe of Polk City, and 14-year-old Kiersten Mann of Ankeny.

Harper and Gabe’s dads were roommates at Buena Vista University. One called the other to tell him his son was picked from 400 nominations.

“I remember where I was when I got the text message from him that they were both kid captains and it was super exciting,” Gabe’s dad Darin Graber said. “I called my wife right away and told her and, yeah, it was just really special to have them be a kid captain as well as us.”

“Of course, we’re Hawkeye fans and we cheer for the Hawks regardless, but to see your own kids put on the black and gold and to share their story and continue to grow and flourish and develop as young children, it’s fun to watch,” Nolan Stribe, Harper’s dad, said.

The story of each child will be highlighted during the game they captain during the 2018 football season.