A little girl in Whiteland learned to walk holding an IV pole as she tottered up and down hallways at Riley Hospital for Children, smiling while Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” played.
Alaina Day’s life was only 17 months long — but her legacy has grown and continued to inspire her family and friends. The family — Alaina’s parents John and Megan and Alaina’s three brothers — and the community are coming together for the second time this fall to host the “Because I’m Happy” 5K event on Sept. 24, which will raise money for both healthcare scholarships and the children’s hospital.
Day was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a pediatric cancer, when she was just 10 months old.
“She spent more time in Riley Hospital than out of it,” said Mary Ward, a close friend of the Day family and treasurer of Alaina Day Memorial Foundation Inc. The little girl died in 2014.
“Alaina loved her medical and nursing staff, so we wanted to help other people going into the medical and nursing fields,” Ward said.
The scholarships and foundation keep Alaina alive by supporting future professionals who affect kids in such a meaningful way, she added.
In 2015, Ward and other organizers had just hoped to raise $4,000 to $5,000 from the event, but they were awed by how much support they actually got. The event ended up drawing in more than $10,000 from supporters of the walk as well as friends of the family who sent in donations locally and from other states.
This year, Ward said she hopes to raise $12,000 and fund five scholarships. In 2015, they raised money for two $1,500 scholarships and one $1,000 scholarship.
This year’s event will be in conjunction with Whiteland Community Day, and the foundation will also offer live and silent auctions. The event begins with a balloon release and playing of “Happy.” The song also is played at the end of the 5K event.
The foundation has helped bring about a positive legacy out of tragedy.
“Her mom and dad just want people to remember the relationships Alaina had with their medical team and make sure that we can help a few kids with college expenses as they become nurses, doctors or radiologists,” Ward said.
The Alaina Day Memorial Foundation’s second annual “Because I’m Happy” 5K run and walk
When: Noon Sept. 24 in conjunction with Whiteland Community Day. Registration starts at 11 a.m.
Where: Whiteland Elementary School, 120 Center St.
What else: Auction at 12:45 p.m., food vendors, classic cars, bounce houses, more entertainment
Benefits: Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and scholarships for graduating Whiteland Community High School seniors who are pursing careers in the medical field.
Connect: To learn more about the event and the foundation, visit the Alaina Day Memorial Foundation Facebook page.