Dancing for Those Who Can’t
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Dancing for Those Who Can’t

By Caleb Elliott

Why on earth would students attend a dance from 6 p.m. to midnight on a Friday night? That is probably the question many students would ask when they first hear about Riley Dance Marathon. 

However, what many students don’t know is that this event is more than just a dance.

Riley Dance Marathon was first introduced in 1991 at Indiana University to honor AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) patient Ryan White. It has spread to dozens of Indiana high schools.

The main point of the Riley Dance Marathon is to provide a night where high school students can come to the school, dance, play games with their friends, and raise money for the patients at Riley Hospital for Children.

Senior Katie Alexander is this year’s Riley Dance Marathon president.

“I went to the event my freshman year and had such a great time,” Alexander said. “I could really see the positive impact that the event had on people, especially the Riley Kids, so I knew that I wanted to get more involved my sophomore year.”

Organizer on stage
Katie Alexander, president of the Riley Dance Marathon committee, speaks during the 2021 RDM. She introduced the special guest speakers who have been impacted by Riley Hospital for Children. (Photo Provided)

Since Covid-19 struck in the spring of 2020, the number of students attending the dance marathon has gradually decreased. 

“I would love for more people to attend, just so the event could have a bigger impact,” Alexander said. “We did not have the numbers last year, so I am happy to see more people attending this year. I hope that trend continues.”

As of Thursday morning, 100 students are registered this year, which is nearly double the size of last year’s crowd.

Secretary Kelli Edwards is the staff sponsor of this event. Edwards got involved based on her personal experience with Riley. Her oldest son Brady, a Delta graduate, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at Riley Hospital for Children.

“When Brady was under a year old we went down to Riley for the diagnosis. He also got a lot of treatment there, too,” Edwards said. “But what stuck out to me was seeing all of those sick kids being pushed around in the [red] wagons. It was jaw dropping. It made me feel so blessed and fortunate to have my health and to have a healthy family now.”

Boy throws dodgeball
Brady Edwards fires a dodgeball during a past Riley Dance Marathon. (Photo Provided)

Something that many students might not understand is that they might have peers that have gone or are going through Riley for whatever reason. This dance could help them or their families.

According to the Institute for Patient and Family-Centered Care, Riley Hospitals serve more than 300,000 inpatients and outpatients each year.

Sophomore Belle Brown is one of those students who has had to go through Riley.

Belle was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease at age 11 and visited Riley for treatment.

“Riley was one of my favorite places,” she said. “The doctors were really nice and helped me through the process.”

Since Brown has been at the high school she has attended the Riley Dance Marathon. She was even a guest speaker in the 2021 event. 

“It means so much. Having that support and all those people behind me just means the world.” Brown said. “It helped me realize that I can keep going.”

This year’s event is Friday, March 11 from 6 p.m. to midnight. The organizers expect to break the previous donation record of $19,973.88 which occurred in 2018.

“I think that they should just realize that health is not something to be taken for granted,” Alexander said. “While they may be relatively healthy, there are local families who have been in bad situations, and Riley Children’s Hospital helps them get back on their feet.” 


Delta Dance Marathon Totals Since 1996:

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March 10, 2022

About Author

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Caleb Elliott Caleb Elliott is a senior at Delta High School. He plays football, basketball, and baseball. He enjoys watching movies, and hanging out with friends and family. Caleb hopes to win a sectional by the time he graduates


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