For seven hours, a group of 300 teens danced to raise money for a hospital that treated relatives and friends who survived cancer or who suffer from long-term illnesses.
The Franklin Community High School students danced for their cousins, siblings, friends and neighbors who have received treatment at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
The school raised more than $36,000 for the hospital in an annual dance marathon that is being called one of the most successful in the state. Other schools got involved, too. Greenwood schools gave money. Elementary and intermediate schools at Franklin donated to the high school’s dance marathon.
On Saturday, Franklin College will kick off its inaugural event with a marathon in the school’s fitness center after a new student saw that the school didn’t have one.
Freshman Jaime Robbins is starting the marathon at the college after being treated at the hospital for most of her life. Robbins had several open-heart surgeries, with one as recently as last year to treat a heart defect.
Her experiences at the hospital prompted her to find a way to help. She helped organize marathons at Southport High School. Franklin College didn’t have one, and Robbins wanted to change that.
HOW TO DONATE
If you would like to give money to Franklin College’s dance marathon, you can mail a check to 101 Branigin Blvd., Unit 1379, Franklin, IN 46131. Checks should be made payable to Riley Children’s Foundation.
Robbins remembers a nurse giving her stuffed animal a chest X-ray while she was having the same X-ray and going over lines for a play with her in high school.
“They always make me feel like a kid and not a patient,” she said. “It’s kind of like my home away from home.”
Franklin high school started a dance marathon four years ago. Nearly 7,000 families in the county receive treatment at the hospital, and Franklin has raised almost $100,000.
Raising money to help sick children is popular with students, especially since most have a relative or personal story about receiving treatment at the hospital, said Nicci Sargent, teacher adviser for Franklin Community High School’s dance marathon.
The high school ranks fourth across the state for dance marathon donations. Other schools that have raised more money have many more students attending, such as Carmel High School and Bloomington South High School.
Nearly everyone knows a Riley kid, and the high school itself has had teenagers who may still be receiving treatment, said Claire Meade, a senior at the school.
“(Students) have been able to see what Riley does,” she said. “It could be a classmate that you are sitting next to that goes to Riley.”
Meade decided to get involved with the marathon after her brother received cancer treatments at Riley. Evan Meade completed treatment for leukemia in 2010 and has since been a champion for Riley and participated in other causes. The Meade teens helped organize the first marathon.
Raising money for a dance marathon is an easy way to help a hospital that gives a lot to local families, Claire Meade said.
“We decided that we wanted to do something that is bigger than ourselves,” she said.
Students ask businesses to donate to the marathon and other schools conduct fundraisers.
“It’s a whole corporation initiative,” Sargent said. “Every year the buy-in at the corporation gets more and more and goes further and further.”