By Brylee Beckley
Riley Dance Marathon is not “For the Kids” anymore.
For the Kids (FTK) has been the chant for Riley Dance Marathons for many years. Along the way Penn State University trademarked the phrase for their event Thon. Thon has raised $204 million, which is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Now they are not allowing Riley Dance Marathon to use the phrase.
The new saying is “Kids Can’t Wait” (KCW).
“The kids at Riley don’t have much time to wait, and they need our help now,” junior Grace Flowers said.
Riley Dance Marathon is a fundraiser that collects donations for the patients at Riley Hospital for Children. Last year Delta raised $23,647.40. On March 10, 2023 the school’s next Dance Marathon hopes to raise more than $24,000.
Flowers is taking on a new role of presidency, as last year’s president Katie Alexander graduated in June. This is typically a senior held position, though last year there were only seniors on the council besides Flowers, a sophomore who was vice president.
Alexander chose Flowers to be vice president, so she would be able to train her to be president for her next two years of high school.
“I really admired how organized Katie was last year and how she was always on top of things,” Flowers said. “Since this is my first year as president, and we have completely new council members, I’m really just following what Katie did. Though I am planning on having more meetings and creating more fundraising opportunities to generate more money.”
With a new perspective on dance, marathon brings a different meaning.
“Riley Dance Marathon looks a lot different to me this year compared to my freshman year. I appreciate it so much more now because I’ve seen all the hard work that is put into the event and all the work put into raising money,” Flowers said. “At its core, RDM is all about raising money for kids in need. So yes, we want a lot of people to attend the event, but we really want to raise as much money as we can so we can donate it to kids who need our help.”
The council is a group of students who are the leaders of every dance marathon and are in charge of their division of planning. The divisions are Family Relations, Merchandising, Corporate Relations, Morale and Hospitality.
This year’s council is made up of Flowers, co-vice presidents sophomore Kennedy Martinez and junior Marigail Yakos, treasurer sophomore Emerson Townsend, and secretary sophomore Raegan Faletic.
“The most important part of dance marathon is planning; there’s tons of it, so for one person to do it by herself would be impossible,” Townsend said. “For a good Riley Dance Marathon there’s got to be a council to be leaders of specific divisions, then with that a committee of people that is willing to help, plan, and set up.”
This year’s committee consists of 23 students, and everyone is assigned one of the five divisions. The committee has a meeting once or twice a month leading up to the event.
All committee members have to go “canning” at least two times. “Canning” is a way of fundraising money. Members go to Puerto Vallarta for two hours, where they greet customers who are entering the building and ask them, “Would you like to donate to Riley Hospital for Children?”
“We are able to raise lots of money from canning. We usually raise around $100 every time we go,” Townsend said. “Because our committee is so big, and when everyone goes twice, it really adds up.”
A new way dance marathon is going to raise money is by offering a tailgate at one basketball game. The tailgate will be held inside the auxiliary gym, where there will be games and food. Anyone in the community is welcome to come.
Mrs. Kelli Edwards is the staff sponsor of dance marathon. This will only be her second year. She became the sponsor when Mr. Todd Trehearne retired from teaching. Even though she is newer to the role, this cause still means a lot to her.
“I’ve been to Riley with my own kids, and I’ve seen the faces and families there and it’s emotional to say the very least. There is worry, there is sadness, but there is something much bigger, there’s HOPE,” Edwards said. “The money we raise that is going toward research, education, and families ultimately adds to that HOPE. It’s a great feeling.”
Closer to the event, there will be sign up packets for people who want to go to Riley Dance Marathon, which they must fill out, and there will be a link for apparel.
“I think a lot of the students just think it’s some sort of dance, which really isn’t true.” Flowers said. “RDM is really just a whole night of games, food, fundraising, some dancing, listening to Riley patients’ stories, and just having fun.”