• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

Nothing is his kryptonite

Hawkeye Kid Captain Lincoln Ortman honored by his school, Hawkeye team members
Lincoln Ortman, Hawkeye Kid Captain for Nov. 7’s Iowa vs. Indiana football game, runs through the crowd assembled in his honor at his school, North Bend Elementary in North Liberty.

NORTH LIBERTY– It’s not every day that North Bend Elementary School starts the morning with the entire student body and staff wearing black and gold and chanting “I-O-W-A!”
But then, it’s not every day that the North Bend community invites the Iowa Hawkeye football players to visit or throws a pep rally to honor one very special student.
North Bend kindergartener Lincoln Ortman was chosen to be the Hawkeyes’ Kid Captain for the Nov. 7 Iowa-Indiana game, and school staff, students and administration rallied for the event. They planned a surprise pep rally, wore T-shirts bearing Lincoln’s name in the shape of Superman’s logo, decorated an easy chair with Hawkeye-themed blankets, and waited en masse in the school’s gymnasium for the guest of honor.
The hushed crowd erupted when Lincoln was ushered in via police escort, and, to the throb of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” was hoisted onto the shoulders of UI offensive linemen Landan and Levi Paulsen.
It took a few beats for Lincoln to realize he was the center of everyone’s attention, but after his ride from the Paulsens, a run through the cheering crowd and a slick ducking maneuver underneath the paper banner awaiting him at the front of the gym, Lincoln settled comfortably into his black and gold throne and soaked it all in.
Kid Captain is a program of the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. It was initiated in 2009 to honor pediatric patients, share their unique stories and bring delight to the families of kids who have fought courageously against serious, sometimes life-threatening, medical conditions.
Kid Captain program coordinator and Children’s Hospital Marketing Manager Cheryl Hodgson attended North Bend’s Nov. 5 event in Lincoln’s honor. Hodgson said she has seen events honoring various Kid Captains before, but North Bend’s celebration was something different.
“I have never seen anything like this before,” Hodgson said. “This is amazing.”
Since the Children’s Hospital and Kinnick Stadium, home of Hawkeye football, are across the street from each other, Hodgson said the Kid Captain program was a perfect matchup to celebrate kids who demonstrate such perseverance and bravery.
“You have the Hawkeyes, which is a great team, and you have the Children’s Hospital and their families, who are a great team,” said Hodgson. “So every year we select 13 families, one for every home and away game, and tell their stories.”
Children selected as home game Kid Captains are also invited to watch the games from the sidelines, but everyone’s stories are told through social media, conventional media, and the program has been featured on the Big 10 Network. “We know people aren’t always aware of the things families go through, so this is a great platform for them to talk about the situations they might be dealing with, and maybe even help other families who find themselves in the same situations,” Hodgson added.
Hawkeye tight end George Kittle is also a fan of the Kid Captain program.
“It’s an amazing thing, because it gives kids a chance to be with the Hawkeye players, which, if they are at the hospital a lot, they see Kinnick every day and may have dreams of going to Kinnick or maybe even playing there some day,” said Kittle. “So for them to come down for the coin toss, it’s just really exciting. I’m really happy to be able to see the looks on the kids’ faces when they come on the field. It’s really heartwarming.”
Also in attendance at the pep rally were Lincoln’s family: mom Missy, dad Chris, and siblings Damon, Preston, Haley and Mason, all of North Liberty. The audience was shown a video detailing Lincoln’s battle with numerous medical complications, beginning when he was an infant.
The family was living in South Dakota when, at just 5 months old, Lincoln’s doctors gave a diagnosis of hemangioma– a non-cancerous growth caused by an abnormal collection of blood vessels– and discovered he had only one kidney and a tethered spinal cord, causing neurological concerns and a recommendation for surgery at 18 months of age. When their dermatologist in Sioux Falls urged them to get a second opinion, the family contacted the UI Children’s Hospital.
“It was important to find doctors who had experience with urological issues and to find a neurosurgeon who could take care of his spinal cord,” Missy stated in the video. “When you get a diagnosis that your child is going to have lifelong issues, and needs major surgery before they are a year old was extremely difficult and fearful. But coming here and hearing the doctors say ‘We’ve seen this before, we can help you, and we have a plan,’ that was a huge burden taken off our shoulders.”
The Ortmans began a regimen of care for Lincoln that encompassed nearly five years– making the seven-and-a-half hour drive to Iowa City several times each year. Anticipating additional long-term treatment, the Ortmans decided in 2014 to move closer to the hospital and the medical team that had taken such good care of Lincoln. That brought them to North Liberty, and Lincoln to North Bend school.
Today, Lincoln is a spunky, active, strong-willed normal 5-year-old, although his health considerations are ongoing.
“It’s a really neat experience to see him getting all this extra attention, and not have to worry about his health today,” said Missy. “He will continue to have urological issues– that’s going to be a lifelong thing for him. We probably have another surgery in the future, but right now he is in a good place, with a good plan for his care.”
North Bend Elementary Principal Brenda Parker said the Superman logo was an appropriate homage to Lincoln’s medical journey. In one video shot, Lincoln is wearing Superman pajamas, an outward indicator of his inner strength and fortitude.
“He wears a lot of Superman stuff because of what he’s been through,” said Parker. “In the video, they talk about how nothing so far has been his kryptonite.”
The North Bend staff is another team that came together to help celebrate Lincoln’s success, Parker added.
“We were so happy the Hawkeye players could come today,” she said. It was a score for the entire North Bend community, who responded in force when Parker sent out an email asking for anyone with connections to the University to assist.
“The people here are phenomenal; everyone kept asking, ‘What can I do to help?’” said Parker. “They are amazing teachers and educators, but more importantly, they are incredible people who care about the kids and each other. I am just so blessed to be in this building, and to be a part of that.”