BY AMANDA ARNOLD
FLOYDS KNOBS —
Almost every four months, Lanesville resident Amber Fisher takes her son Colin and daughter Chloe to Riley Hospital for Children.
Riley Hospital is a major part of life for the Fisher family because the hospital constantly provides updates regarding their children’s blood sugar numbers.
“We’re able to get in touch with a doctor immediately. It’s also about them being where we need them to be, even when we are not physically there,” said Fisher.
Each year, Riley Hospital serves 350,000 children from the Hoosier state and across the country.
“We have some of the top doctors, nurses and caregivers. Families come to us from all over, but it’s Indiana’s hospital,” said Chelsea Backus, dance marathon coordinator for the Riley Children Foundation.
Also, no child is turned away regardless of the ability to pay.
“Riley gives each child the same world-class care. No parent has to look at their child and say that’s the best they can do. Riley provides hope,” Backus said.
It’s because of the hope and extraordinary care provided by Riley that high schools and colleges across the state hold dance marathons as a fundraising activity. The events were started in 1991 as a tribute to Ryan White, the Indiana teenager who passed away from complications related to the AIDS virus in 1990.
The marathons have been a huge success for Riley, as the events usually raise $2 million each year. On Saturday, Floyd Central High School held its second-annual dance marathon for to benefit Riley Hospital. During the event, high school students participated in a combination of games such as corn hole, pingpong, Twister and inflatables. The students also made crafts and learned a dance routine.
“The most important part is that the dancers remain on their feet the entire time as a sign of respect for what the Riley families go through,” said Backus.
Eleventh-grade student Noelle Wilcox wore her tennis shoes so she could remain on her feet for the entire six-hour marathon. She said she and her friends had a good time.
“A lot of people signed up because they wanted to do something for the kids. Everyone wants to help,” said Wilcox.
Jessica Broady, teacher and faculty sponsor of the event, explained that the dance at the high school was part of Butler University’s larger marathon, and each of the 400 students who attended is encouraged to raise at least $25.
“A lot of the kids bring in more and it all goes to Riley,” said Broady.
Later, Broady announced that the students raised $24,503, which is more than last year’s total of $17,000.
“Our students did a phenomenal job, and we are so very proud,” she said.
Tiffany Stansbury, teacher and faculty sponsor, explained that almost 60 students help organize the marathon throughout the year. While the dance marathon was once part of the student council, the committee is now separate because of the demand and year-round fundraising.
In addition, as Stansbury pointed out, many of the students on the committee also participate in other school events.
Backus classified the marathon at Floyd Central as phenomenal, as it was “kids helping kids.”
“It’s easy to get them to help each other,” she said. “You start talking about Riley and most have a connection, or know someone who does, so they understand what our mission is about. The students are terrific because they are so passionate.”