Iowa City-Cedar Rapids—Wow, what a club! (Saturday, July 17)

The Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Notre Dame club was our first stop on Saturday night, July 17.

The Iowa City-Cedar Rapids club event was just awesome. John, the ND club president, did a wonderful job organizing the event and gave us a little tour around Iowa City before dinner. What a beautiful city!

Sean and Mary Anne hosted the club event at their home, the path to which proved tricky. All the media of navigation—GPS, maps, printed directions—that we had at our disposal turned out to be no match for Iowa City’s four-of-every-street city plan. However, the enormous Notre Dame banner outside Sean and Mary Anne’s house came to the rescue. I have to say, I have seen some enthusiastic Notre Dame fans in the past, but Sean probably takes the cake—a basement filled with Notre Dame football memorabilia, anything and everything from golden football helmets to photographs of Fighting Irish football stars. Looking over the photos and magazine covers on the wall, the issue of Sports Illustrated with Coach Ara Parseghian on the cover stands out as a very fitting reminder to us of the true purpose behind our bike ride.

Saturday was a very special night in Iowa City because it was the send-off event for the incoming freshmen from the area. We really enjoyed meeting them, all of them so excited about coming to Notre Dame in August. The freshmen were introduced and they received “the shirt”, a Hawkeye umbrella, and the words to the greatest fight song in collegiate history. They are a very enthusiastic group of students that Notre Dame will be lucky to have on campus.

The club presented us with wonderful gifts: two Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) cycling jerseys. RAGBRAI is the famous Iowa long distance bicycle ride each year in July. I think we might have committed to this ride next year! Michaela and Ally, our daughters, were presented with Hawkeye t-shirts, which they wore the very next day. Also we met two avid ND cyclists, Jude and Val, who left us with some biking essentials and great advice: “Keep your heads up and your wheels down!”

During the evening the club passed around a golden football helmet and collected $1500, which will go toward the Niemann-Pick Type C research fund. Thank you, Iowa City/Cedar Rapids for your generosity. You have set quite a precedent for the other clubs to follow—or, should I say, surpass?

The evening culminated in a performance of the fight song by all the members in front of the grand banner (see the video clip, and after you do I am sure you will agree with the club’s decision to take their voices to Carnegie Hall next year).

The members also gathered around the van and signed it, leaving us with that Iowa spirit to take with us across the country. We are planning on collecting many more signatures along our route as well as checking out which ND club has the best vocal stamina. For those back in the Bend, come and check out the decorated van when we return on August 23.

The Notre Dame Club of Cedar Rapids/Iowa City signed the van.

We had an absolutely amazing time at the club event. We wish to thank John for organizing it , Sean and Mary Anne for hosting so many people at their beautiful home, and all those members who showed up to wish the freshmen well at Notre Dame and to wish us good luck on our ride. You can certainly see why the club was a top club last year. Thank you Iowa City-Cedar Rapids! We really appreciate your kind and generous hospitality. Go Irish, or as the club has coined, go Iowish!

Alumni, friends and family are signing our van at every stop.

Connection to Notre Dame?
I thought this blog might provide a good avenue for answering some of the questions I have been frequently asked. For example, I have been asked time and time again about my connection to Notre Dame. I did not go to Notre Dame, but I do have a connection. My great uncle, believe it or not, James “Pomp” Harris, played football for Knute Rockne and his championship team. Therefore growing up in Cleveland, I had the opportunity to go to many Notre Dame football games and also the Blue-Gold game every year. It makes me proud to see my great uncle’s team photograph in the Monogram Room.

3 Comments so far

  1.    Sam Frankel on September 14th, 2010

    Hi Cousin Dean!

    James “Pomp” Harris was my cousin too. My Grandma “Maggie” knew him quite well. A story at Notre Dame goes… After a hard hit in a Football game Pomp’s false eye popped out and he started looking for it on the field…Coach Rockne was impressed. Pomp found his own eye, put it back in, and continued play.

  2.    Sam Frankel on September 19th, 2010

    It’s a small world. My late Grandma Margaret “Maggie” sister of “Lizzie” was Pomp Harris’s Mother. My aging Mom has a few stories about the legend of Pomp Harris. Before he went to Notre Dame he was a prize fighter which worried my Grandma…Pomp would re-assure her…”Don’t worry Aunt Maggie, I’m taking a dive in the 4th round.”
    …Now we know He never took a dive, he was a real Fighting Irish.