High school students have promoted their dance marathon with pep rallies and during basketball halftime shows.
At one school, the goal is to make the marathon a bigger event than prom.
Franklin Community, Center Grove and Whiteland Community high schools all host dance marathons to benefit Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
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.
During the past five years, the marathons have become popular at high schools and even junior high and elementary schools.
Nearly every student at most Indiana schools have some connection to Riley, and dancing the night away is a fun fundraising option for teens, said Lindsay Bentz, student council adviser at Center Grove High School.
“It has become a more common thing for high schools in our area,” she said. “It’s a combination of having fun but also realizing the impact of (Riley) on someone they know.”
Teens hear about the marathons through word of mouth and decide they want to have one at their school. Center Grove’s marathons is in its fifth year, and Franklin’s is in the fourth. Whiteland will host its second dance marathon in March.
Whiteland sophomore Hannah Upchurch decided in junior high that she wanted to start a dance marathon after seeing a college marathon.
Her brother was treated at the hospital, and other students at the school have similar stories, she said.
Organizing a marathon is the work of a group of students dedicated to the cause, educators said. Student councils typically take charge of the planning, and the marathon can be one of the biggest events of the year.
At Whiteland, teachers sifted through dozens of applications from students who wanted to be on the executive council that does the yearlong planning.
Students said they are drawn to the cause because of its local connection.
“It’s a solid group of kids who want to give back,” said Nicci Sargent, adviser to Franklin’s marathon. “It is something that is personal for them.”
Schools in the county have raised thousands of dollars for the hospital through the dance marathon. Center Grove raised more than $3,000 on Feb. 1.
Registration makes up much of the money, so getting participants is key, students said.
Whiteland and Franklin marathons draw hundreds of students. About 70 attended Center Grove’s this year.
Organizers at Whiteland want to build the dance marathon to be the one event every year that every student would like to attend. Their goal is to have a dance that could rival prom.
“We want to be one of those dance marathons that everyone talks about,” junior Jordyn Newett said.