Funding the Kids



Sophomore  Isabella Simons’s life changed the day she was diagnosed with Craniopharyngioma.

It is a non-cancerous brain tumor that occurs most commonly in children. She was whisked off to Riley Children’s Hospital immediately after her diagnosis where she underwent treatment and surgery according to Simons via email. Many CHS students are already affiliated with Riley due to the annual CHS Dance Marathon. However, few students actually know how the money raised by Riley is spent.

“The money raised by Carmel Dance Marathon goes to support the areas of greatest need at Riley,” Samantha Lame, Dance Marathon coordinator for the Riley Children’s Foundation said, “In total, all Riley Dance Marathons raised $5.5 million last year. Carmel’s Dance Marathon raised $342,741.”

Lame also says Dance Marathon helps patients at Riley in several ways other than just financially. She said, “I can’t even begin to tell you how often I hear from kids, parents, and siblings about what a difference Dance Marathon has made in their lives, specifically on the emotional side.” Simons agreed,“I think Dance Marathon affects patients and their families by showing how much the community cares through their dedication and support through the event.”

Chloe Wiser, sophomore and former Riley patient, said “The money that is raised [through Dance Marathon] can literally be a lifesaver for children and their family.”

In particular, Lame said that the money raised from events such as Dance Marathon is generally used to help finance medical research. She said “For the past ten years, Carmel Dance Marathon’s money has been paired with IU’s Dance Marathon money to support the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease and Infectious Disease research.” In addition, Lame said “Dance Marathon is able to touch patients through research being done in the Wells Center for Pediatric Research.”

However, Lame said, “This year all Dance Marathons will be expanding their area of support. 75 percent of the funds raised this year will support research and 25 percent will be supporting clinical programming. This (expansion)means the money Carmel Dance Marathon raises will be helping an even wider range of children and families.”

Students such as Simons and Wiser said they felt their favorite things about Riley weren’t research related but the personal care offered by Riley’s staff.

“My favorite part about Riley was how warm and welcoming the staff was,” Wiser said.

Simons agreed, “You can tell that they [Riley staff] care about you as a patient and a person. They really want to help you and make you feel comfortable.”

Both students agreed that this personal care differentiated Riley from other hospitals. “Riley is different from other hospitals because it truly cares about each patient,” Simons said. “On Halloween, after my surgery, doctors and nurses dressed up in costumes and went room to room to bring patients goodies to celebrate the holiday.”

Wiser said, “I’ve been to other hospitals but Riley stands out in their relationships with their patients.” In short, both Wiser and Simons agreed what truly differentiated Riley was the staff who worked there.

Lame said the money raised from Dance Marathon addressed this need.

“It (Dance Marathon money) touches the patients by ensuring we can recruit and support the best specialists and researchers in the country.” Lame said. These specialists and researchers make up part of the staff that both Wiser and Simmons had such positive experiences with.

Lame said, “Riley Hospital for Children has volunteer opportunities for those who are 16 or older. The application can be accessed through their website. There are many, many fundraising programs offered outside of the Dance Marathon world. Riley Children’s Foundation partners with over 150 outside individuals or organizations who host third party events for the hospital.”

“Students at CHS can help support kids at Riley by joining clubs like Project Sunshine that make craft kits to help young patients stay positive,” Simons said.

Wiser said one of the best things other CHS students could do is simply just provide moral support to students that are undergoing treatment at Riley.

“The best thing CHS students can do for children going through treatment at Riley is to not make them feel like they have to be embarrassed about it,” she said.

While fundraising events for Riley such as Dance Marathon do have a financial impact in many ways the emotional and mental effects of such events are far greater.

“Events like Dance Marathon help patients like me get better because they show how much the community cares about sick children,” Simons said. Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 12.01.10 PM