Jefferson High School has a new tradition during its Friday night football games at its home stadium.
Football players, students and fans pause for a few moments, turn over to El Paso Children’s Hospital located across the street, and wave to the young patients after the first quarter of the game.
They’ve titled the heartwarming act of kindness the ‘Wave of Love.’
“We’ll pause the game for a few seconds, we make our way down to this side of the field, just to make sure they have a good view from the hospital. We just wave and let them know that we’re here supporting them,” said Tony Martinez, Jefferson head football coach.
Local high school football fan Jesse Tovar found himself at El Paso Children’s after his daughter was hospitalized and noticed the view from his daughter’s hospital room.
He told ABC-7 he was inspired by the University of Iowa where thousands of fans greet young patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital from the stadium.
Tovar said he and his friend Ed Stansbury got the ball rolling and pitched the idea to Coach Martinez.
“It’s good for the community, the school and the kids in the hospital,” Tovar said.
Together they reached out to EPCH officials who agreed to have all the patients in their rooms look out the windows and wave back.
“It’s amazing. The kids feel like someone thought of them and they aren’t forgotten,” said Megan Kamau, the Child Life coordinatior at EPCH.
Kamau was on the ninth floor of the hospital during the inaugural Wave of Love, where children were holding glow sticks so they could be seen.
“We appreciate everyone cheering this relationship on. We would really like to see it grow and we appreciate Jefferson taking this on and thinking of us,” Kamau said.
Kamau said the mothers of some of the children were just as excited to see the gesture.
While football games can become competitive for the Jefferson Silver Foxes, it’s not always about winning, Martinez said.
The coach said acts of kindness like the Wave of Love help build character.
“It shows them compassion and humility, which is ultimately what I’m trying to show the kids here at Jefferson High School,” Martinez said.
Jefferson hosts Burges High School Friday night at 7 p.m.