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Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon raises record breaking donation

| Wednesday, April 13, 2022

On Saturday, the women of Saint Mary’s College held their sixteenth annual Dance Marathon. With additional support from members of the tri-campus community, the club was able to raise $210,059.28 for Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. This year’s donation total bypasses last year’s total of $207,921.26 by over $2,000.

Saint Mary’s College held its first Dance Marathon on April 20, 2006. The first marathon raised $21,047.42 and was named “Best New Marathon” at the Children’s Miracle Network Dance Marathon Leadership Conference of 2006.

After 12 hours of dancing and fundraising for Riley Children's Hospital the Saint Mary's College Dance Marathon members and participants pose with final donation total.Courtesy of Saint Mary's College Dance Marathon
After 12 hours of dancing and fundraising for Riley Children’s Hospital the Saint Mary’s College Dance Marathon members and participants pose with final donation total.

Lauren Doriot is a senior at Saint Mary’s and the president of Saint Mary’s College Dance Marathon.

“We raise funds and awareness for Riley Hospital for Children down in Indianapolis,” Doriot said. “All the money that we raised throughout the year goes to Riley directly and they can use it for whatever is needed at the hospital at the time, which is pretty cool. You can see all of our donations across the entire hospital. So, we’ll be dancing and fundraising all day for Riley Hospital.”

Doriot also described what Dance Marathon means to her.

“This is a club far greater than myself,” said Doriot. “So being able to give back to all the sick kids at Riley and help their families is just, it’s so inspiring and awesome.”

According to the official Miracle Network Dance Marathon website, “Miracle Network Dance Marathon is a program of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN Hospitals). CMN Hospitals raise funds for over 170 children’s hospitals that support the health of 10 million kids each year across the U.S. and Canada.”

The site also states that “donations go to local hospitals to fund critical life-saving treatments and healthcare services, along with innovative research, vital pediatric medical equipment, child life services that put kids’ and families’ minds at ease during difficult hospital stays and financial assistance for families who could not otherwise afford these health services.”

Dance Marathon began when a 13-year-old boy named Ryan White was diagnosed with HIV/Aids following a bad blood transfusion. The summer before he would start his first year at Indiana University, Ryan passed away. In 1991 to keep his memory alive, a group of Ryan’s friends started Indiana University Dance Marathon. The movement grew from there, now there are over 350 schools that participate in Dance Marathon.

Junior Margaret Harper also spoke on her experience with Saint Mary’s College Dance Marathon.

“It means so much to me to be a part of this,” Harper said. “I want to work with kids when I’m older and I just think it’s an absolutely incredible cause because these kids are the future. They deserve a chance to give this world what they’ve got inside of them.”

This year the club of over 140 members had a total of 366 people registered to participate in the actual Dance Marathon itself.

Julia O’Grady the Executive of Alumni Outreach for the club explained what it’s like to work behind the scenes of this momentous event.

“It’s definitely cool to be behind the scenes of making this day happen. Tthere’s so much that goes into it that I didn’t realize, and not even just for today, but throughout the whole year,” O’Grady said. “There’s a lot of different events and there’s a lot of planning that goes into it and a lot of teamwork. So it’s been really cool to be a part of that, and honestly, it’s an honor.”

Dance Marathon Day started at around 10 a.m. and ended roughly at 10 p.m. The committee members and dancers stayed in Angela Athletic center for twelve hours taking part in games, obstacle courses, information tables and of course dancing.

Bella Burke is a Junior at Saint Mary’s and is a member of the morale dance committee. Burke described her favorite part of Dance Marathon.

“I think I like how selfless everyone is,” Burke said. “We all understand that this is so much bigger than us and so much bigger than today, especially through our committee. Riley outreach focuses on the kiddos and their families, telling their stories and being able to hear their stories throughout the day of the marathon really pus things into perspective.”

Vice President of Finance for the club Kathleen Soller has a unique perspective on Dance Marathon.

“I am a Riley kid,” Soller said. “I received treatment for cancer at Riley Hospital in 2017. So, this is a cause that’s very near and dear to my heart. I was a part of Dance Marathon when I was in high school and when I came to Saint Mary’s I was very excited to see that they had a dance marathon here. Over the past four years this has been a huge part of my college career. I spend countless hours every week working on this. So, this is kind of the heart and soul of my life here at Saint Mary’s.”

With Soller’s personal connection to Riley Children’s hospital, the Dance Marathon took on a whole new meaning for her.

“I love seeing all these people come together and support Riley Hospital for Children,” Soller said. “Everyone at Saint Mary’s is from all across the country, most of them have never even heard of Riley. So, for them to come and support a cause that they may not even know about means so much to me. It’s so special that everyone is willing to come together and support these kids and their families, even if they don’t know who they are.”

Sarah Kerston, a Saint Mary’s sophomore, commented on the impact Saint Mary’s has at Riley Hospital.

“We’re a small school, but we do a lot for this one hospital in Indianapolis,” Kerston said. “It’s amazing to see all of us come together for a cause that’s bigger than ourselves.

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