LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland High School has started a new tradition during home football games at Bryant Stadium.

  • Fans use cell phones to wave to children at medical center
  • Idea came from new tradition at University of Iowa football games
  • Lakeland HS players visit children on day of home games

It's called the "Dreadnaught Wave." Thousands of fans use their cell phone lights to wave at sick children and their parents looking on from the nearby Carol Jenkins Barnett Pavilion for Women and Children at Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.

As part of the effort to bring good cheer and encouragement to the kids and parents, several football players visit children at the hospital the afternoon of a home game. On Friday, defensive lineman Latrell Jean and two other players made the visit.

Jean really enjoyed his visit.

"You're a big girl. You're welcome. Can I get a high five? Thank you, thank you," he said as he talked with the little girl. 

"It was amazing," Jean said of the visit. "A lot of them I really liked. They are amazing kids because they are nice even with what they are going through. They still have a smile on their face."

Latrell Jean (No. 96) visits with a child before a recent home football game. (Rick Elmhorst, Spectrum News)

That evening, parent Angel Rosa along with other parents and children watched from a sixth-floor hospital window as thousands of people in the stands waved their cell phone lights toward the hospital. It brought a big smile to his face.

"Happy and home," he said. "Yea, I know people outside, they take time to say high to the kids. That's good."

Rosa's son, who had suffered a seizure, wasn't able to look down on the game so he taped the lights on his phone.

Jean said his fellow players were really motived by the Dreadnaught Wave. 

"They love it. They love it," he said. "Every day you see all of them come up the sideline. They waved to them. They loved it."

The idea for the Dreadnaught Wave came from something fans do at University of Iowa football games. They wave to children in a hospital that overlooks their stadium.