The University of Indianapolis held its 12th annual Dance Marathon in Ruth Lilly Fitness Center on Feb. 22 from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Last year, they exceeded their fundraising goal by $15,000, and this year was no exception. UIndy Dance Marathon raised $66,035.15 for Riley Hospital for Children, exceeding their goal by over $6,000.
Members of Dance Marathon spent eight hours on their feet, doing a variety of things that include activities, food, entertainment, stories from Riley kids and their families, and much more according to UIndy’s Dance Marathon’s webpage.
Junior nursing major and Director of Hospitality for UIndy Dance Marathon Tatum Howell was one of 154 people that registered for the event.
“My favorite part of the day is hearing the stories [from patients at Riley Hospital for Children] because it’s so hard sometimes to fundraise and not know why you’re fundraising if you don’t have a reason to why you’re doing it,” Howell said. “Seeing these kids and hearing them say ‘This is what happened to me when I was born’ and they didn’t have this choice but that Riley [Hospital for Children.] was there to help them through it.”
Everything surrounding DM is for the kids. Sophomore elementary education major and Director of Morale for UIndy Dance Marathon Jenna Beck is responsible for creating the song and dance that is taught to other dancers and performed multiple times throughout the night. Beck said that toward the end of the night, there is one final dance that is recorded and posted. The dance is created to show that UIndy DM dances for the kids who are not able to, according to Beck.
While the event was happening, the dancers were still fundraising for donations. This year’s rodeo-themed DM had a cowbell that people would run to and ring every time someone received a donation.
“Nothing warms my heart more than when somebody runs over and rings the bell, showing another donation,” Beck said.
Like Howell, senior elementary education major and Vice President of External Relations for UIndy Dance Marathon Alexia Hines believes that the stories told by the Riley kids are impactful.
“Every year when I come to the actual Dance Marathon event, just seeing the atmosphere and everybody’s in it for the same cause as you, and everybody is excited. You see the Riley kids and hear their stories close up,” Hines said. “It’s just so impactful and it just makes you want to push yourself even harder the next year.”
Hines said that she knows the impact illness has on families and how much it means to them and their kids.
“We always focus on our why we do Dance Marathon, one that is really close to me is that my sister’s best friend, Bella, was at children’s hospitals for quite a while throughout her life and she passed away in December,” Hines said. “She was so sweet and so amazing, and I’ve seen the impact that illness has on families and that’s why I do it.”
The money raised from UIndy’s Dance Marathon goes toward research and child life. Howell said she believes that research and technology will impact future children at Riley.
“I truly think that it’s the generation changing the next, I think we have so much potential with research and how technology is changing to actually make a difference for these kids and in childhood cancer in general,” Howell said. “I think the only way they can do that is through funding and through the age of social media we have all the potential in the world to raise so much money for these kids, so that’s why I do it, because I know we can end it.”