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.