Guest Column: Dancing for Those Who Can’t



By Mohammad Issa

In 2006, a couple hundred kids gathered to honor a lost student, sister and friend. That group was able to raise $35,000 for Riley Hospital for Children and introduce a new giving mindset to the student body. This first, now unrecognizable, Carmel Dance Marathon was the beginning of possibly the most impactful face of our student body’s philanthropy and compassion.

Much has changed over the years with Dance Marathon. Numbers have shot up to 1,100 students and $230,000 were raised in 2011 and hopefully more in 2012. We have tailgates, food nights, movie showings and smoothie competitions to get everyone involved. However, questions have come up regarding Dance Marathon and its significance. Who is benefitting? Why Riley? What’s the point of Dance Marathon? I’ll try to answer these questions for you while explaining what Dance Marathon means to me.

For the few who don’t know, Carmel Dance Marathon is an affiliate of IU Dance Marathon, which began in 1991. Carmel became associated with Dance Marathon after the tragic death of alumnus Ashley Crouse in a car crash. Ashley was never a Riley patient, nor did she even know one prior to Dance Marathon. However, she was, I have been told, an uncommonly kind individual and a devout participant of IU Dance Marathon. Carmel Dance Marathon was founded by Ashley’s brother Casey and his friends as a tribute to her. The tradition, led by Ashley’s friend and student government sponsor Sarah Wolff, has continued with unimaginable success.

I hear other students saying things like, “Give the money to another charity,” or, “Are you sure the money’s being used right?” You know what I say to that? Shut up.

Every cause is a noble cause in my mind, whether you’re solving world hunger or helping your local library. It just so happens that our cause is helping a children’s hospital. Ashley’s passion was for IU Dance Marathon and the kids at Riley Hospital. Most if not all high school and college Dance Marathons around the nation benefit The Children’s Miracle Network. I love the fact that 1,000 kids will take time from their busy lives to come together for something meaningful. We are helping those who can’t help themselves, kids helping kids. Those doorbells we ring, letters we send and six hours we stand on that Saturday in February may seem like such simple acts, but they could change lives.

I will quote Wolff to answer the second comment, “When you give someone a gift, do you have to know how they use it?” What we donate to Riley every year is our gift to them. I don’t know what they use it for; I don’t care. Riley is a non-profit organization that relies on contributions, and regardless of how much our donations contribute to the yearly budget, Riley knows every year it can count on Carmel High School for help. I lied; I’ve heard of what the money has been used for, and once it is revealed, I’m sure the question will be put to rest.

You can never give too much and never stop giving. High school kids have a reputation of being snot-nosed brats, and while I find that expression hilarious, I say it’s time for a change. Show that teenagers have hearts. Go to Dance Marathon and enjoy the experience. If you find that you are not passionate about Riley Hospital, then use what you learn and do something else. Help at a young age, and I am sure there will be a bright future.