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SMC Dance Marathon sets fundraising record

| Monday, March 21, 2016

Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon (SMCDM) raised its largest ever total Saturday, bringing in more than $105,000 in donations for the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The funds raised during and in the months leading up to the 12-hour dance marathon at Angela Gym help to provide treatment for children regardless of their families’ ability to pay. 

A girl plays on an inflatable slide as part of Saint Mary's annual 12 hour Dance Marathon that supports Riley Hospital for Children. Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

A girl plays on an inflatable slide as part of Saint Mary’s annual 12 hour Dance Marathon that supports Riley Hospital for Children.

Maranda Pennington, Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon president, said the marathon itself is a culmination of a year’s hard work.

“The biggest [events] include our FT5K run/walk in October and then Riley Week in February,” Pennington said. “During Riley Week, our goal is to spread the message of Riley to the student body and make people more interested in participating with Dance Marathon.”

Pennington said several families whose children have sought treatment at Riley Hospital are invited to share their stories at Dance Marathon each year.

“[The stories of Riley] really put matters of my life into perspective,” Pennington said. “I can be stressed out of my mind for school or other reasons, but then I will remember the work I’m involved with in Dance Marathon and all the kids that are literally fighting for their lives. It has made me more grateful and more willing to advocate for those in need.”

Pennington said these testimonies have reaffirmed her decision to become a nurse because they continually remind her of the importance of caring for those in need.

“A major part of being a nurse is being a holistic advocate for your patient,” Pennington said. “I feel like my experiences and skills I have acquired as a leader in Dance Marathon and as a nursing student making me better at both roles.”

Pennington said she hopes Dance Marathon continues to engage students in fundraising efforts for sick children.

“I hope that we continue to increase our efforts to raise awareness and funds for the amazing kids and families at Riley Hospital for Children while also gaining more student participation each year,” Pennington said. “The passion and dedication of the women I work closely with all year is amazing.”

First-time participant freshman Maggie McKinnon heard about SMCDM from her sister, junior Bridget McKinnon.

“We raised $105,963, the biggest [amount] in Saint Mary’s history,” Maggie McKinnon said. “It was a lot of fun. I think my favorite part was when we did … a circle and they played the song ‘Angels Among Us’ and we just stood there and sang along. The [SMCDM executive board members] would come along and find their committee members and just give them hugs and it was just really nice.”

Freshman participant Nicole Blandin said she found the experience inspiring.

“I was very emotional [when the families were sharing their stories of Riley Hospital],” Blandin said.  “It kind of showed us the whole point of the evening and gave us a better perspective and more connection to the families.”

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