Cy-Hawk game ball marches into Tama

Roughly 60 Army ROTC cadets from the University of Iowa and Iowa State University crossed the Lincoln Highway Bridge on Friday on their way toward the ceremonial Cy-Hawk Game Ball Exchange in Tama. The cadets enjoyed beautiful weather and organizers said they had been ahead of schedule most of the day as the cadets were running a faster pace than usual. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

As the college football universe turned its collective gaze toward the state of Iowa this week for the annual Cy-Hawk rivalry game, the community of Tama-Toledo played its own role in the festivities.

Since 1987, the Army ROTC Cadet Battalions at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University have conducted a Game Ball Run exercise to transport the game ball for the Hawkeye and Cyclone football game back and forth from Ames and Iowa City depending on who is hosting each year.

The run took place Friday, Sept. 10 with the U of I battalion beginning at Kinnick Stadium at 7:15 a.m.

From Iowa City the group made stops in Williamsburg, Marengo and Belle Plaine before meeting up with their ISU counterparts at the Highway 30 Roadside Park in Tama just before noon.

Together the two battalions of cadets numbering around 60 ran from the Lincoln Highway Bridge to South Tama Elementary under beautiful late summer weather conditions.

U of I ROTC cadets took a break at the roadside park in Tama as they prepared to head out for South Tama Elementary. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

There they greeted students by running the ball through the hallways and playground areas.

From the school the cadets next made their way to the Tama-Toledo Country Club for a cookout and meet and greet with the community.

The cadets plan to attend the football game Saturday and will deliver the ball to ISU Head Coach Matt Campbell at a pep rally before the game.

The event was originally established in support of an ROTC cadet who lives with multiple sclerosis. Since then it has evolved as a promotional event for the Army and their ROTC programs and has led to an annual food drive with collections taking place at the stops along the way.

Organizers report last year the event helped collect over 5,000 pounds of food that was distributed back to food pantries within the host communities.

Army ROTC cadets from Iowa and Iowa State enjoyed their own Cy-Hawk rivalry while waiting to depart from the Historic Lincoln Highway Roadside Park in Tama late Friday morning. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

When the group stopped in Tama Friday afternoon they anticipated exceeding last year’s total.

Cadets from the University of Iowa Army ROTC brought plenty of spirit to South Tama Elementary students Friday afternoon. Several of the Elementary staff were also decked out in their college apparel of choice. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

The Iowa State University Army ROTC Cadet Battalion runs through the 4th Grade pod at STC Elementary on Sept. 10. -- Photo by Darvin Graham

The ceremonial Game Ball Exchange took place at the Tama-Toledo Country Club on Sept. 10. Pictured with the ball are U of I Cadet Lichtenstein and ISU Cadet Batieh. The cadets enjoyed a cookout with community members before departing the country club. -- Photo by Darvin Graham