In order to reach their year end goal of $40,000, the UIndyDM organization hosted Riley Week, a series of fundraising events throughout the week of Oct. 29. According to sophomore psychology major Mackenzie Williams, Riley Week is important for not only fundraising for the kids at Riley Children’s Hospital, but building community awareness around campus and getting more students and staff involved in the organization. Williams is the fundraising chair for UIndyDM and said she plays a direct role in organizing fundraising events.
Last year, UIndyDM raised $38,008.77 for Riley, much of which came from Riley Week activities. According to Williams, UIndyDM organized two weeks during the year to hold the fundraiser, one in the fall and one the week leading up to the dance marathon event.
“It’s [Riley Week] exciting because we are able to reach out and get people involved, who may have never heard of our movement before,” Williams said. “Just spreading the word to a handful of students, that handful of students can then spread the word to another group of students, creating an even more successful movement of awareness.”
Each day of Riley Week offered a new activity for members of UIndyDM as well as students and staff across campus to participate in. On Tuesday, the group held a stress-relieving pumpkin smashing event on Smith Mall, on Wednesday the members of UIndyDM went trick-or-treating for donations and Thursday, some members went on a visit to Riley as well as hosted a tie-dye event. Friday was the ‘push day’ for the UIndyDM team, where they tried to raise as much money as possible by posting on social media and recruiting new donors. The group raised $4,546.82 on Friday alone.
Williams said that there is a lot of planning for each of the events throughout the week and each member of the organization plays a role in the process.
“Obviously there is a lot of planning that goes into deciding what kind of events we want to hold throughout the week so that we can build the campus’ awareness of what dance marathon is and why raise money for Riley. However, it is a lot more than just our executive board doing the planning and preparation,” Williams said.“Riley Week is a great opportunity for us to raise money for the kids at Riley with all of the events that we are hosting during the week, but it is also a very important week for us because it allows us to spread awareness to the UIndy community and allows them to get involved.”
Sophomore public health education and promotion major Jessica Koons, the UIndyDM director of dancer relations, said that her favorite event over the week was the pumpkin smashing event. Students were able to pay $1-$3 for each pumpkin and could smash it any way they wanted, according to Koons.
“We have never done this event [the pumpkin smashing event] before, and this year we decided to take a spin at it. It was a complete success and we ended up raising $169 from the event,” Koons said. “It evoked a lot of attention from the students too.”
Koons said that raising the goal to $40,000 this year has pushed their members to grow the organization, find new ways to raise funds and make a bigger impact on the children at Riley. As the director of dance relation, Koons worked on the timeline for the week’s events and worked with her committee to plan some of the events.
Koons said though the week requires a lot of work, it is rewarding to know that all of the money is going toward the children.
“Riley Week is a time for us to really push ourselves to see how much we can raise for the kids,” Koons said. “So we generally have a larger sum at the end of this week compared to most other weeks, but our weekly averages this year have been off the charts.”
All of the money raised throughout the week will go straight toward the goal of $40,000 that will be donated to help children at Riley dealing with serious illness, disease and other health concerns, according to Williams. Being the fundraising chair, Williams said it is especially rewarding to see the money being raised by this week.
“It is always surprising to see how much money that we are able to raise as such a small school. It really gives me hope to see college students give up their time and money to help make sick kids happy,” Williams said. “Yes, it is cool to see the money that we raise, but the most important part is that we focus on why we are raising the money and we all want to work toward the goal of making the lives of those kids better.”