Painted bed sheets with names of Riley kids decorate the walls of the gym during the annual Purdue University Dance Marathon. Each banner adorned some drawings done by students to recognize the many Riley kids they worked with during the marathon.

Each committee participating in PUDM, like sororities and fraternities, made the bed sheets to represent the Riley kids they were paired with. Each participating child is randomly paired with a PUDM committee, and they work with the Riley kid for a year.

“For every team that signs up, they are paired with a Riley kid, and that’s your pairing for the year,” said Lucas Wuestefeld, a junior in chemical engineering. “Since I’m on Morale (team), we have meetings with our kid, and we’ll do some Q&A stuff with him, or we’ll check in on how we’re doing.”

“Everyone gets partnered with a different kid and in their own capacity do different things with them.”

One of the banners was for Braden Tamosaitis, the Riley kid the morale team is paired with. Braden’s sheet features the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds logo since he’s a big fan of the team and attends all their home games.

“We were so lucky with Braden because he is such a character and a soccer fanatic,” said Itza Valdez, a senior in the College of Health and Human Sciences. “Braden loves to FaceTime our executive, Olivia. He loves to just talk about whatever, like his soccer games and his day at school.”

These bed sheets mean a lot to the Riley kids and their families. The kids may feel like they don’t have a lot of control over much while they’re a patient at Riley, but working with their group allows them to choose what they want on the banner and are excited to see their banner.

“My committee painted a bed sheet banner for Addison Waldridge,” said Sydney Clifford, a member of the High School Marathon Relations committee sophomore in the College of Science.

“With these bed sheet banners, we want to be able to recognize some of our Riley families that are coming. This is something that a lot of the kids look forward to the marathon.”

When Addison came to PUDM’s Day of Miracles in October, Clifford said she told her she wanted “rainbows, unicorns and pink,” so that’s exactly what she got on her bed sheet banner.

“It really goes into the character of being a kid and something fun for that,” Clifford said. “Especially because whenever you’re a kid at Riley, you don’t get a lot of choices of what it means to be a kid.

“We wanna be able to recognize that they aren’t just a patient at Riley, they aren’t just a kid that receives treatment at Riley. At the end of the day they are kids.”

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