“(Jamie) Pollard, Iowa State’s athletics director, a mover and a shaker to the nth degree, was in Sioux City Monday to drum up enthusiasm for Cyclone athletics. 

 

He succeeded famously.” Ė Sioux City Journal, June 5, 2007

 

 

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa -- The 2007 Cyclones tailgate tour had its busiest day Tuesday.  But by the end of a full schedule of events in Omaha and Council Bluffs, tour members had spread Cardinal and Gold goodwill on both sides of the Missouri River and received back the appreciation and smiles of the young and the old.  It was perhaps the most rewarding day for all involved.

 

More than 500 Iowa State fans gathered in the parking lot of the Mid-America Center to hear the “voice” of the Cyclones, John Walters, introduce athletics director Jamie Pollard, head football coach Gene Chizik and head wrestling coach Cael Sanderson. Sanderson asked the question of the night while up at the podium.

 

“Is it great to be a Cyclone fan or what?”

 

Omaha Children’s Hospital

 

The day began with a visit to the Children’s Hospital of Omaha.  Ten members of the party visited the medical center, including Pollard, Chizik and head coaches Stacey Gemeinhardt-Cesler (softball), Rebecca Hornbacher (soccer), Jay Ronanye (gymnastics), Duane Sorenson (swimming) and Sanderson.

 

It was Mrs. Henry Doorly who conceived the idea of a local children’s hospital in 1943 when she overheard a conversation in which another mother told a hospital employee that she could not pay for her child’s care.  Mrs. Doorly went to her husband Henry, who helped finance construction of the hospital that opened in 1948.

 

Pollard and the coaches toured two floors of the 141-bed facility.  The children expressed their appreciation for the visits, some only through their eyes.  In the art room, interest centered on Sanderson, who was a graphic design major at Iowa State.

 

“My daughter’s eyes lit up when you came into the room,” said one parent to Sorenson.

 

The Cyclone swim coach earlier talked and laughed with a young patient, who was a swimmer.

 

“When you swim, you need four meals a day,” the girl told Sorenson as she munched on some food her mother had brought in from the outside.

 

Hospital officials thanked the tailgate tour members, which included its most popular member, Cy.

 

“I think it is great that you guys have done this,” said hospital community relations specialist Rob Harding. “Some of the children can’t fully express how much they enjoy getting visitors. But I can assure you, they appreciate getting visitors.”

 

Omaha Boys and Girls Club

 

The caravan headed next to the Omaha Boys and Girls Club, which had planned ahead for the arrival of its Cyclone guests.  More than 300 children from elementary school age through high schoolers had assembled in the facility gym.  The first major eruption of energy occurred when Cy made his entry on to the basketball court. Ronanye got the assembly rocking by doing a back flip in street clothes.

 

After a short talk by Pollard, Chizik and about 30 members of the Boys and Girls Club Pop Warner Football team adjourned to a different location.  Chizik talked to the group about being young and having the opportunity to do anything they wanted in the future.

 

Chizik, once a third-grade and middle school teacher, used his classroom experience skills Tuesday. The Cyclone head coach brought forth for club members one of their own, ISU quarterback recruit Phillip Bates of Omaha. Bates has been active in the same Boys and Girls Club. One highlight of the following question and answer session was an inquiry from one young man who asked if Chizik, a University of Florida graduate, had been at Florida when Gatorade when it was invented.  He hadn’t, but the question drew a lot of laughs.

 

The Boys and Girls Club of Omaha has more than 7,700 members, up to 1,000 of which are active in its summer programs.  The Dorene and Lee Butler Family Youth and Development Center, which housed Tuesday’s activities also includes a computer room and additional activity space.

 

“We want this to be a positive place for kids,” Boy’s and Girl’s Club chief professional officer Thomas R. Kunkel said. “We have a wide variety of programs for the different needs of the children.  This was a great day for our kids. There were excited to see everyone.”

 

Alegent Health Mercy Hospital

 

The final stop before the tailgate celebration was at Alegent Health Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs.  A crowd of young children greeted the Iowa State congregation at the front door of the facility, which is known among other things for its cardio-vascular care and its hip and knee replacement program. A steady breeze stroked the Cyclone flag that flew on a pole opposite the U.S. and Iowa flags just outside the entrance.

 

The mayor of Council Bluffs had proclaimed Tuesday “Iowa State Day.” After a lobby reception which included the reading of the proclamation, a contingent of the ISU party went up to the floor which accommodates the hip replacement and knee replacement patients.  Then it was on to the Mid-America Center.

 

The tour moves on to Mason City Monday and Waterloo Tuesday.