The third annual University of Indianapolis for Riley Dance Marathon took place in the Ruth Lilly Fitness Center on Saturday, Feb. 8. According to sophomore nursing major and UIndy for Riley Executive Board member Ali Iavagnilio, the event raised $13,301 in donations, more than double last year’s total of $6,084.
This was achieved through “Riley Buckets,” donation buckets, left at locations such as pizza parlors and gas stations. Local restaurants also participated in “give back” nights, during which they donated a portion of the proceeds from a given night to the UIndy for Riley Dance Marathon. The rest of the donations came from participants at the Dance Marathon.
Looking to the future, Iavagnilio hopes to get a bigger, campus-wide reach for the Dance Marathon. She expressed the need for more Registered Student Organizations to get involved, as well as sports teams and the student body as a whole.
“I want to make it something that’s known here. ‘UIndy DM’ give it a name,” Iavagnilio said.
Members of 12 UIndy sports teams, other students, sports figures and Riley Children’s Hospital patients attended the event, which featured dancing and a number of other activities.
Throughout the eight-hour span, the participants did many different types of dances, including popular line dances, such as the “Casper Slide.” Participants were taught separate parts of a fully choreographed line dance each hour, with moves choreographed for songs from “Space Jam” to “Timber” by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha. At the close of the event, the dancers performed the entire routine.
Freshman biochemistry major Allie Bishop attended the event and said she has a personal connection with Riley Hospital for Children. She also was involved with the Riley Dance Marathon at Southport High School, which works in cooperation with Indiana University and is the oldest high school dance marathon.
Several famous Indianapolis sports figures contributed to the event. Matt Overton of the Colts sent a video because he could not attend and the Indiana Pacers cheerleaders, the Pacemates, taught a dance.
“I really liked that they had the Pacemates come and that they involved the community,” Bishop said. “I also like that they made up their own dance.”
The Riley kids and their families showed their appreciation for the event and its planners. A couple of the Riley kids even got some of the spotlight. One girl sang solo and another did a dance from the Broadway musical “Wicked.” A more serious, portion of the night included UIndy students in attendance recounting their stories about how Riley has played a role in their lives. Participants listened intently as multiple students shared the different ways in which they have been affected.
Iavagnilio said that, although its called a “Dance Marathon,” the event is not all dancing. There are a lot of different activities involved, as well as a greater good that the committee is working towards.
“It’s just a great experience to be able to work directly with the kids,” Iavagnilio said. “To hear their story is a very eye-opening experience that a lot of people don’t get to see.”