The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC dances for charity

Kaitlyn Rabach | Monday, March 25, 2013

The eighth-annual Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon, a student-led fundraiser for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, raised an all-time high amount of funds at this year’s event.

Committee members said Saturday’s event in the Angela Athletic Facility raised $104,374.83 for the Hospital.

“Seeing the total reveal at the end was so exciting and unexpected,” Dance Marathon president Amy Tiberi said.

Tiberi said she first became involved with the event in her high school and developed a passion that she wanted to carry over to her college experience.

“I am from the Indianapolis area and was involved with Dance Marathon all throughout high school,” Tiberi said. “It was a very natural transition for me to be a part of the committee here at Saint Mary’s. I have had close friends treated at Riley Hospital, so there is that personal connection, but really just seeing how much this hospital positively affects lives is enough for me to want to be involved.”

She said the committee hosts several fundraisers throughout the academic year, but the marathon is its most well-known campus fundraiser.

“Each year we pick a theme for Dance Marathon and throughout the year we raise money through sponsors and local business support,” Tiberi said. “This year the theme was ‘Rock of Ages’ and we went in with the goal of raising $88,000.”

Tiberi said the event gives students who are not on the committee the chance to fundraise for the cause.

“I knew I couldn’t be a board member, but at the same time I wanted very much to be a part of this marathon because it is for such a great cause,” senior Gabriell Sabatini said. “I was able to sign up as a dancer and raise about $200 for the Riley Hospital”.

This year the marathon featured music, dancing, games, crafts and other entertainment. Tiberi said she encouraged students from other area colleges to come, as well as members of the community. An estimated 300 people attended the event.

Salon Rouge, a local salon, sponsored a table at the event giving away gift bags and offering services for a low price.

“We are a small business in town and we want the community to know we are here to help,” manager Ann Malencia said. “We are not just here to make money. You never know the background of the person walking through the door of the salon and we want to show the community we are here to listen and we are here to help.”

Tiberi said most participants’ favorite part of the marathon is when local Riley families come in and share their stories to the crowd.

Gary Newcomb, whose child receives treatment at Riley, publicly shared the story of his daughter, Emily, for the first time.

“About eight months ago, after a misdiagnosis from a local hospital, Emily had to be rushed to Riley Hospital where they found out her liver was very enlarged and tumors were on it,” Newcomb said. “A couple of months later we received a phone call saying Emily had fluid in her brain.”

Newcomb said he and his wife “literally thought we were watching her [Emily] pass in front of us”. But after two brain surgeries, Newcomb said Emily is in the recovering process thanks to the compassion and care of the staff at Riley Hospital.

“Her brain surgeries were right around Christmas time and we mentioned to the staff we were unable to get a family picture with Santa,” Newcomb said. “After Emily was out of her second surgery a nurse came and got us. One of the doctors, not even Emily’s, drove to his house to pick up a Santa costume and came back to the hospital so we could get our family picture. This is just one example of the compassion of the Riley staff.”

Newcomb thanked the crowd and said Riley families hugely appreciate fundraising events like Dance Marathon.

“Emily is easily over a million-dollar baby,” Newcomb said. “Without this type of monetary support we really don’t know what we would have done.”

Mother Brooke Young also spoke about her son, Seth, and his experience with the hospital.

“One minute we were packing for a family vacation to Texas and the next minute our world was turned upside down,” Young said. “We received a phone call from Seth’s doctor saying there were abnormalities in Seth’s bloodwork. He was admitted to Riley hospital and we were told our 12-year-old son has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.”

Young said her family was “forced to endure a journey they never thought they would be taking”, but the hospital staff at Riley was there to throughout its duration.

“We have developed loving relationships with the nursing staff at Riley hospital,” Young said. “They have become what we consider parts of our extended family.”

Young ended her story by thanking the crowd and the Saint Mary’s organizers of Dance Marathon.

“Know what you are doing is absolutely amazing,” Young said. “You are truly helping families. Never doubt the Riley staff. They are an army of amazing people and have a true compassion for the children they care for.”

Tiberi said these are the stories and the people her committee works for.

“It truly is a good cause,” Tiberi said. “I can’t wait to see the passion for Dance Marathon continue to pour out next year.”