The 11th annual Ball State Dance Marathon took place Feb. 17 in the Field and Sports Building. Participants raised $653,011.23 for Riley Hospital for Children to help fund the Magic Castle Cart — a program that delivers more than 20,000 gifts to patients, parents and siblings annually. Rebecca Slezak, DN
Ball State Dance Marathon raises more than $650,000 for Riley Hospital for Children
More than a marathon was the closing message of Ball State's 11th-annual Dance Marathon. Participants raised $653,011.23 for Riley Hospital for Children.
The donations help fund the Magic Castle Cart — a program that delivers more than 20,000 gifts to patients, parents and siblings annually — and pediatric palliative care.
Several partner high schools across Indiana contributed to this year's Dance Marathon and donated a combined $207,817.74 to Riley.
Throughout the day and into the night, dancers participated in activities across the field and sports building.
The marathon usually kicks off with dancers reciting a pledge and learning the line dance. However, students were also encouraged to participate at other stations during the event, which included activities from standing yoga to kickball with the kids and even a hair-styling station.
When sophomore legal studies major Codi Scarberry surpassed her fundraising goal of $300, she even shaved her waist-length hair.
“If I can relate to a Riley Kid on some level, with this short hair, why not?” Scarberry said, “It’s only hair — it grows back.”
Scarberry has been involved in six marathons since high school because her mom and cousin were both patients at Riley.
“Dance Marathon is a huge part of my life,” Scarberry said. “I plan to keep doing it. I did it high school, I'll do it for the rest of college, then I’ll do it as an alum.”
More than a marathon
Everyone in the room chose to spend their Saturday dancing for 13.1 hours.
For sophomore exercise science pre-physical therapy major Heather Roser, the choice was personal.
“I wanted to be a part of Riley Dance Marathon because I did it in high school, but I also have a best friend that has Crohn’s Disease,” Roser said. “She’s been suffering with it since she was 13. Seeing her suffer like that made me want to be more than a support system.”
Roser said that while her goal was to raise more money than she did last year, she and the Dance Marathon committee wanted more than just that alone.
“Our goal this year was to be more than a marathon,” Roser said. “We wanted to really motivate people and find an inspiration to make the marathon more than just being here.”
Sophomore Sydney Chaney said she also thought goals — that went beyond the monetary ones — were accomplished.
“This is my first year on a committee, but I’m already seeing the effects of it even before the marathon, and I know these effects will last past the marathon, and it’s been such an impactful thing,” Chaney said. “It gives me a different outlook on life and a better appreciation for my health.”
For the kids
If you ask anyone in the room, Dance Marathon was, is and always will be about the kids. Children from Riley’s Hospital are involved with practically every event and booth at the marathon. Their presence is not only encouraged, but greeted with thunderous applause. A couple of the kids even came in inflatable dinosaur suits.
For freshman business administration major Sophia Renaud, these kids have been her driving force for the marathon from start to finish.
“It’s just really rewarding to see what impact you’re having on the kids,” Renaud said. “I love seeing all the Riley families here. It puts a picture in my mind of what I’ve been working towards this whole semester.”
Madison King, a junior child life specialist major, was a Riley kid herself. At the ages of 14 and 17, she had spinal cord surgeries. During her second year at the event, King was a master of ceremony at this year’s marathon.
“I was very nervous at first, but its been awesome. It’s been a blast,” King said. “I really hope that this spreads across campus, gets more people involved wanting to come and help out this great cause,” King said.
For 12-year-old Riley kid Joseph Peters, Riley Hospital made his recovery feel like he was at the “Disneyland of hospitals for kids.”
Peters, who lost his leg in lawnmower accident, said the Riley staff, dog therapy and music therapy made his recovery more enjoyable.
“I know what it’s like to be there. People need help and that’s what they are doing,” Peters said. “It’s amazing seeing all the dancers dancing for such a great cause. All these kids, it’s great.”
Dance Marathon, to Peters, means people are helping kids like himself have a enjoyable recovery.
Contact Andrew Harp with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @retr0andrew. Contact Elena Stidham with comments at email@example.com. Contact Liz Rieth with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @liz_rieth.