First, credit where credit is due here.
I joined an interview in progress between Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi and Daily Iowa sportswriter Amie Kiehn. She asked Stanzi about his relationship with a young family, the Waters of Ainsworth and a little girl Jenna Waters, who suffers from Embraynol Hepatoblastoma, a rare form of cancer.
I haven’t seen Amie’s story posted yet, but I will when I see it.
Godspeed to the Waters family. Please, send thoughts and prayers their way. Please, go to the Waters’ family Caring Bridge site and see if there’s anything you can do to help the family. I’m late on the events, but there might be something you can do.
I think this is what Kirk Ferentz and a lot of players in Iowa’s program see in Stanzi — a gentle heart who’s mature beyond his years. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that he’s only 22. Football gives these guys the platform to say and do a lot of things. It’s heartening to see Stanzi recognize this and bring a little joy into the life of a young family fighting one of life’s most treacherous battles.
I posted this yesterday, but I didn’t want it getting lost in the contrails of game talk.
Stanzi and a few teammates have been regular visitors to Jenna in the UIHC. She’s a 4-year-old from Ainsworth who’s being treated for cancer.
Jenna is a relation of former football manager Dan Wolfe. He asked Stanzi and roommates A.J. Edds, Brett Morse, Jeff Tarpinian and Tony Moeaki if they’d be interested in visiting Jenna.
Of course, they were.
“We were just so moved by her story,” Stanzi said. “How young her parents are. They’ve got two other young kids. She’s a twin. They’re taking care of Katelyn and Bryce and they have Jenna and she just got diagnosed with cancer. It’s such a compelling story, we wanted to help anyway we could.”
Last winter, they exchanged phone numbers and became Facebook friends. Whenever Jenna is in town, Stanzi and his ‘mates try to find the time to meet.
They met in a park in Iowa City on Tuesday morning.
“She just went to Disney, so we were talking about that,” said Stanzi, who wears a pink plastic “Pray for Princess Jenna” band on his right wrist to show support.
“Every week, you’re getting ready for a game and then you look at Christina and Jared (Jenna’s parents), they fight they have to go through everyday with raising their kids and taking care of Jenna,” “Stanzi said. “You have so much respect for them that it makes your job look easy. We play a sport. They’ll text after games and say how happy they are to watch the game. It just makes you happy that you can be there for someone when all you really have to do is play a sport. I think it just puts things into perspective.”
Stanzi has younger brothers, Vinnie (17) and Joey (11), so this hits home for him.
“To see Jenna and her family, that’s tough,” he said.
Again, Godspeed to the Waters. Bless you, Jenna.