A rea high school students organizing their annual fundraiser said they believe everyone knows a Riley kid.
And each year, they give back to the hospital that treated and possibly saved their friends or family with fun but intense dance parties that seek to get the entire community involved.
Franklin Community, Center Grove and Whiteland Community high schools all host dance marathons to benefit Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. Franklin College hosts a marathon, too.
These events raise thousands of dollars for a hospital that has impacted the lives of so many of their family and friends, student organizers said.
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Dance marathons to raise money for Riley started with colleges charging a registration fee for students to out-dance one another and hear the stories of families who have been helped by the hospital.
The marathons have been around for years as a large fundraiser schools can completely organize and plan themselves and the number of schools participating and how much they raise for the hospital has grown in the last few years, said Kate Burnett, senior communications officer for Riley Children’s Foundation.
About 80 schools in Indiana dance the night away for the hospital. And last year, they raised more than $6.5 million, she said.
Hoosiers from all 92 Indiana counties receive treatment from the hospital, which can make it a popular cause for schools to rally around, Burnett said.
“Most people are either directly impacted by Riley or know someone directly impacted,” she said. “That is why so many students are engaged and care about the cause.”
Hundreds of students and residents attend Riley Dance Marathons planned locally at area high schools.
Franklin Community High School is hoping for at least 300 students to attend its Riley Dance Marathon later this week, said Gabrielle Hoffman, an event organizer.
Throughout the evening, students hear the stories from kids who are helped by Riley and the emotional aspect of the marathon is what helps drive the success, she said.
“I just think it does amazing things; I see how all the families of Riley kids are thankful for it,” Hoffman said.
Center Grove and Whiteland Community high schools already have conducted their marathons this year, raising almost $25,000 for the hospital between the two schools.
Part of what draws local students to dancing a night away for the cause is the proximity to local schools, said Maggie Brock, an organizer at Whiteland Community High School.
“We see how it affects the people in our community,” Brock said. “You can always ask them to raise money for a good cause.”
Students are willing to give up part of their year to organize events for Riley, said Rachel Tonte, adviser to the Riley Club at Center Grove High School.
Events are planned to raise money throughout the year, with the dance marathon being the largest of the year, she said.
Students in the club are responsible for finding sponsors and making sure the marathon goes smoothly, Tonte said.
“A lot will join because Riley literally save their life when they were young,” she said.