It's a thrill for any Hawkeye football fan to see a game at Kinnick Stadium. Sioux Center, Iowa, teenager Chaz Renken got to see the Hawks in person for the first time on Saturday, after being named the "Kid Captain" by the University of Iowa hospitals. It was a day he'll never forget.
It's a view not many Hawkeye fans get. Seeing the black and gold walk down the tunnel before a big game. Chaz Renken, 14, and his family weren't given any guarantees about who they might meet.
"We were told coaches and players and cheerleaders would be coming and going but the fact that each one of them has stopped by, they've said hi, they've taken pictures with Chaz. It's overwhelming," said Chaz' mother, Candy Renken.
But the welcoming party was a "who's-who" of Hawkeye football. Head coach Kirk Ferentz took a break from the pregame preps to say hello. Ferent'z wife, Mary led a cheer. Assistant coach Brian Ferentz, former Iowa QB Chuck Long and Athletic Director Gary Barta all met the Kid Captain.
"We've met a lot of really cool, important people, throwing out the red carpet for Chaz," said Chaz' father, John Renken. "We really appreciate that. It's going to be an awesome day today."
"I was very surprised. Nobody can pass up an opportunity like this. This is amazing," said Chaz.
"We've been to Coralville and Iowa City so many times in Chaz' life, to come here finally for a purpose other than coming to the hospital, is a really great treat," added Candy.
Chaz was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around part of his head, which caused an opening where his cheek should have been. Chaz' first surgery came when he was just six months old.
"The University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, for the last 14 years, has been best friends with us," said John. "They know what they're doing. They've walked us through a very hard time in our lives. We really appreciate their expertise and what they've done for Chaz."
Chaz went to mid-field with honorary captain and ex-Hawkeye Matt Roth, where his story was told to 70,000 fans. Chaz is one of 13 Hawkeye kid captains chosen this season, from a pool of over 400 applicants.
"He's very humbled by this honor and he's just taking it in stride," said John.
"It's pretty cool," said Chaz. "I like the stadium and their new jerseys. It's a pretty cool experience."
Chaz and his family watched the game from seats right on the 50-yard line at Kinnick Stadium.
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