‘Standing for those who can’t’

Dance Marathon raises $62k, exceeds $50k goal

12:26 p.m.

As the white curtain rose, hundreds of students ducked under the divider and flooded toward the Southern Indiana Dance Marathon stage.

“Sit down,” SIDM President Amanda Davidson said Saturday at the Recreation, Fitness and Wellness Center. “This is the last time you’ll be sitting down the next ten hours.”

Davidson revealed a change in the dance marathon branding as Southern Indiana Dance Marathon rather than University of Southern Indiana Dance Marathon, because of the university’s team partnering with local schools in their efforts for Riley Hospital.

She also announced the fundraising goal of $50,000. While attendees stayed on their feet for ten hours, “standing for those who can’t,” they participated in fundraising activities to contribute to that total.

“I cannot wait to see the magic we’re gonna create today,” Davidson said. “FTK: For The Kids.”

12:55 p.m.

Zach Price, donning a rainbow tie-dye shirt and a yellow tutu, held his phone up as attendees recorded a get-well-soon message for his friend Chloe.

Price first met Chloe, a first grader, at last year’s dance marathon. Since then, Price has kept in touch.

“I’ve gotten close to her over the past year,” the senior exercise science major said. “I wanted to let her know we’re still fighting for her.”

Chloe, who struggles with petit mal seizures, couldn’t make it to this year’s event. Price promised her he’d cut off his hair and donate it if he reached his fundraising goal—he did.

“My goal was $1538.95,” he said. “One of our first dance marathons, that’s what we raised, so I wanted to do it myself. I’ve hit $2000.”

1:31 p.m.

Emily and Addy McFadin do everything together.

Addy, 10, was referred to Riley in 2014 and diagnosed with Gaucher disease, a genetic disorder.

“My favorite part about Riley is that they take care of me so much,” Addy said. “I go every other week for enzyme replacement therapy.”

Addy’s mother, Andrea, said when Addy would travel to Riley for treatment, Emily would often tag along. At age 4, Emily was also diagnosed with Gaucher disease.

“Me and Addy have treatments together,” Emily said. “I like Riley because they help me don’t be sick.”

Addy and Emily, who both take dance lessons, were thrilled to learn the line dance at the marathon.

“They were very nervous coming here,” Andrea said of their first dance marathon. “Emily especially, but she tends to follow big sis.”

While Addy and Emily performed a trust fall in the SIDM line dance, Andrea said the event means so much to them as well as other Riley families.

“I love that younger kids can get involved in Dance Marathon,” Andrea said. “For this to be such a large event, it doesn’t go unnoticed.”

3:46 p.m.

While most of the attendees learned motions to Beyonce’s “Formation,” sophomore Bri Martin crouched by a table and wrote notes to Riley kids.

“We want them all to feel really welcome here, because we’re doing it for them,” the social work major said. “We want the kids who come to have as much fun as we’re having.”

Martin decided to help this year because she loves dancing, but she said she quickly realized the importance of the event.

“It’s been so much fun, and it’s so much more than dancing,” she said. “You’re raising money for the kids. I can’t even find the words to describe that.”

4:30 p.m.

Senior Jason Miner was at Riley every month throughout high school.

The communication studies major had a cyst in his brain, resulting in headaches that interfered with his everyday life.

“At times it was hard to come into college,” Miner said. “It was scary to think about what could have happened if we didn’t fix my headaches.”

Today, Miner said he’s been “headache-free” since his last surgery at Riley.

“I’m always happy to share my story,” Miner said. “Riley puts so much effort toward the kids.”

He said it was easier this year to tell his story than last, which was his first time at a dance marathon.

“It’s neat, because when I was in Riley I had no idea about (Dance Marathon),” Miner said. “This helps make Riley the place that it is.”

6:01 p.m.

Stephanie Mikesell stood with her hands behind her back, listening intently to a fellow Riley kid’s story.

“It’s great hearing how Riley helps other people,” the junior radiology major said. “Some as a baby, and me as an adult now.”

Mikesell was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2001. After multiple surgeries and treatments, she’s recovered and is healthily attending college.

“It’s fantastic,” Mikesell said of finally being able to go to school. “It’s scary being far from my doctors, but they do have the Riley connection down here at Deaconness.”

She said she wants dance marathon attendees to know how much Riley made a difference for her.

“This is exciting,” Mikesell said as she looked at other dancers jumping up and down. “Everybody has so much energy to help.”

6:35 p.m.

Lisa Hopf stood on the event stage with her daughter Reagan and told students not to give up after the night was over.

“When college is done and (Dance Marathon) is done,” she said, “your work doesn’t have to be done.”

Hopf encouraged the students to contribute to the Ronald McDonald room at Riley, which has full kitchen seating for families. Different organizations can sign up to bring dinner for any families who need to use that kitchen.

“When I was 25, I didn’t care much about anything but myself and my needs,” she said. “If I thought of trying to help somewhere, it didn’t occur to me that $50 can help.”

This is the second year Hopf and her daughter have attended a dance marathon, and she hopes to keep coming back.

“It’s a lot of fun to see people who want to do things for the kids,” she said, “even if they haven’t been affected by Riley.”

7:30 p.m.

Patrick Hodges has dressed up as Batman since 2015.

He arrived at the dance marathon “straight from Gotham City” in costume with his son, Josiah.

“These kids are superheroes,” Hodges said, “and I tell them superheroes around the world know what they do.”

Josiah’s battle with leukemia started when he was four years old. In the middle of his treatment, Hodges started working with a company to build a Batman suit.

Since then, he’s visited children in Indiana, Florida and Tennessee.

“Young kids really buy it,” Hodges said. “I tell them I’m the real Batman, and they ask where Robin is, or where the Joker is.”

He said the strength he sees in children is unreal.

“I’m so inspired by the kids,” Hodges said. “They’re asked to walk a road that would be insanely difficult for you and I. They have that inner strength, and it’s unbelievable to watch. It’s a huge blessing to me.”

9:20 p.m.

Because of dance marathons, Jenny Deputy has seen her daughter Mickey grow in confidence.

“From the little girl who wouldn’t get up onstage, she’s now the picture of grace and poise,” Deputy said.

Mickey, 19, has been attending different schools’ dance marathons for the past ten years. Deputy said she’s broken ground for a Riley kid with Down’s Syndrome by winning pageants, completing a half-marathon and receiving the Sagamore of the Wabash honor from Gov. Mike Pence.

“It’s like a family reunion every time we go to a dance marathon,” Deputy said.

She said because of the money raised at SIDM, children like Mickey can change the world.

“She goes out and touches lives,” Deputy said. “Every kid here will touch lives because of what you’ve done here today. Whatever the total is, thank you so much.”

9:49 p.m.

While dancers kept their eyes fixated on the closed executive board room door, marathon morale leaders led chants of “FTK, FTK, FTK.”

A line of marathon leaders emerged from the room with white boards. They lined up on the stage and prepared to reveal the dance marathon total.

One by one from the end of the line, the dance marathon staff held up a total: $52,089.24.

The crowd cheered wholeheartedly. Then the first figure dropped to reveal the real total: $62,089.24.

Davidson and the other marathon staff grabbed each other, embraced and cried tears of joy. The crowd went wild.

“This movement has changed the way I view the world,” Davidson said. “Right now there are no words to describe this feeling. This is everything we’ve worked for.”