Lift Them Up
Since launching in 2018, Lift Them Up has been a gameday tradition at every University of Kentucky home football game.* The program aims to boost the spirits of patients and families who’ve come through UK HealthCare’s Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
Each week, a different Lift Them Up Kid of the Game leads the team down the Cat Walk. They do so in a custom-built pushcart made to resemble artistic elements from Kentucky Children’s Hospital, and to the sound of Big Blue Nation cheering them on.
While that alone would thrill any Wildcats fan, the Cat Walk is only one aspect of the Lift Them Up experience. Kids and their families have the opportunity to hang out with the team in the days leading up to the game — attending practice, touring the locker room and even breaking down the team huddle. In addition, after their Cat Walk responsibilities have concluded, the kids get to run around on the field before the game, hang out with The Wildcat and Scratch, and meet cheerleaders and dance team members. All of this leads up to their time to shine when they are recognized on the field as the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Kid of the Game during a timeout. Their smiles can be seen for miles as they are shown on the Jumbotron and hear their name over the PA system while thousands of Kentucky fans cheer. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Bringing the idea to life was a joint effort between Kentucky Children’s Hospital, UK Athletics, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky, UK College of Engineering and players like Luke Fortner, a former UK offensive lineman and current Jacksonville Jaguar who played a big role in helping design the pushcart.
*Excluding 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic