Haylee Brock had two cousins treated at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. One needed a feeding tube, and the other had open-heart surgery.

Thanks to the treatment, the senior finance major said both her cousins have recovered. Today, she said, the cousin who needed heart surgery plays sports regularly.

“She plays soccer and everything,” Brock said. “You would never imagine she had open-heart surgery.”

Ball State Dance Marathon (BSUDM), an annual philanthropic event benefitting Riley Children’s Hospital, will return this Saturday with more than 12 hours of dancing, games, crafts, food and students on their feet for the entire duration.

Brock plans to attend this year’s marathon as a member of Miracle Makers, the Ball State team that has raised the most money so far — more than $33,000 — for the marathon. 

“[BSUDM] will completely change your life,” she said. “I personally didn’t realize that until I started working with the marathon.”

This year, BSUDM will move to the five basketball courts in the Jo Ann Gora Recreational Center instead of the Field Sports Building where it has been held in the past.

Alli Kimmell, president of BSUDM, said the Recreation Center will still be open during the marathon for people to work out and, if they desire, join the marathon. 

“I think that new layout and that new location is going to be something that will completely change the environment of our marathon,” Kimmell said. “In our previous location, the layout of the marathon was kept the same each year. This space allows for a more creative and interactive layout of the marathon.”

She said the new location allows people to see the event from outside and will provide more visibility for the Dance Marathon. Registration will be open throughout the event to allow more people to join the marathon.

BSUDM funds two different programs at Riley Children’s Hospital — the Magic Castle Cart and the Pediatric Palliative Care Team.

Magic Castle Cart has volunteers hand out free toys and other gifts to Riley patients. Palliative Care specializes in care for children with serious illnesses and works with families to decide how to improve the child’s quality of life regardless of the diagnosis.

In 2018, Riley Children’s Hospital admitted and observed more than 22,000 children, according to its website. It also recorded more than 47,600 emergency room visits and more than 10,500 surgery cases. 

Throughout the Ball State event, Kimmel said, different family members will speak about their experiences with the children’s hospital.

Christian Daugherty participated in BSUDM last year. At the time, he was receiving Palliative Care for brain cancer.

Christian died in July 2019. His family, however, still plans on attending this year’s marathon where his father, Brad, will speak about their experience.

“[Brad]’s really taken this situation and turned it into motivation for other people, which is really amazing,” Kimmell said. 

Alex Mast, BSUDM vice president of internal affairs, said at least 23 families and 32 kids from Riley are registered to attend this year’s marathon. 

“This hospital reaches so many different people across the state and even sometimes across the country,” Mast said.

Tiffany Ly, a member of the BSUDM moral committee and the leadership team, said her favorite part of the marathon is connecting with the kids. She said the event has been “life changing” for her.

“A lot of people say your first collegiate marathon will be like the best and will be the one you remember forever, and that is completely true,” Ly said. “When you stand in the front and see all the exact numbers pull up how much you made at the end, your heart is racing … People are crying, and people are laughing and hugging each other.”

For more information about BSUDM, to register for the event or donate to Riley Children’s Hospital, visit bsudm.org. 

Contact Bailey Cline with comments at bacline@bsu.edu or on Twitter @BaileyCline.