More than half a million dollars was raised for Riley Children’s Hospital by Purdue University’s Dance Marathon it was announced Sunday morning.
Purdue’s Dance Marathon raised $528,654.67 for the Riley Hospital for Children. Fundraising began before the event; the total was announced at the end of the marathon. More than 1,300 students participated in the 18-hour event held in the Cordova Recreational Sports Center. Those who danced were asked to stay on their feet for the entirety of the marathon.
Karlee Hepp, president of the marathon, said the final total was “mindblowing.” Hepp said the reveal of the numbers left her “absolutely speechless.”
“I am so proud and hope everyone is as proud as I am,” Hepp said. “I hope everyone that participated feels they are part of those final numbers.”
More than 170 schools have their own dance marathons nationwide. Of these schools, the fundraising efforts of Purdue’s participants placed the chapter fifth in the nation this year.
“Riley families came up to me to say that (Purdue) has set a (fundraising) standard,” Hepp said.
An opening ceremony began the kickoff of the dance marathon. Each participant was first given an imitation of a hospital band in honor of a current Riley patient. Cassie Parker, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, said wearing the hospital band was motivational.
“It just makes you realize what we are really dancing for, it’s for the kids,” Parker said. “(The hospital bracelet I am wearing) says Anna, age 12. I am dancing for a girl who might not be able to make it to college and might not be able to dance for herself ... It makes me realize why I am here.”
A variety of activities took place throughout the course of the marathon to keep participants motivated. Families who had been through Riley Children’s hospital shared their stories. Participant Kelley Jones, a fifth-year senior in the College of Engineering, said the story of patient John Remine was most inspirational.
“The story about John Remine really stuck out to me,” Jones said. “The fact that he was just in college and he got cancer, and his family is still so positive, and they are trying to help other families like themselves ... is great.”
Some of the Riley children performed for the dancers during the marathon. Junior Kenneth Osenbaugh said watching the kids perform demonstrates the importance of the dance marathon.
“It’s really inspiring to hear them perform out there. I think that is the best part,” Osenbaugh said. “These kids are so talented.”
Fraternities and sororities also performed dances to entertain dancers. Osenbaugh, a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, said he was looking forward to performing.
The dance marathon came to a close with committee members revealing the amount raised on the event stage. Each member was given a poster with one of the numbers that, when combined, showed the year’s total.
Freshman Bori Toth said although the experience was tiring, she was glad she participated. Toth plans on returning to the dance marathon again next year.
“When they put up five (for the first number in the total raised), it was amazing,” Toth said. “Seeing how much that impacts those families, it was amazing ... I am just so happy to be a part of it.”
Clare Cook, a member of the special events committee, said getting to know the different Riley Kids was the best part of her dance marathon experience.
“They get to be a rock star for the night,” Cook said. “That is my favorite part.”