"Never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and serve."
This year, I'm incredibly excited and honored to serve as the Director of Public Relations for Indiana University Dance Marathon 2019! I have the joy of serving an organization that has filled my college career with an outstanding purpose and the opportunity to learn from an always inspiring group of selfless, passionate students. In my sixth and final year participating in Dance Marathon, I've set a personal goal of $7,000 in support of research and clinical care at Riley Hospital for Children!
IUDM holds a special place in my heart. Below, I've shared what Riley means to me, some IUDM history, how our funds are used, and some inspiration that has allowed me (and I hope will allow you) to make a positive impact on others.
Why I Dance
For The Family
To pick one moment that has resonated with me throughout my Dance Marathon journey, it would be my first year dancing. Walking into the Tennis Center, there was outpouring love, passion, celebration and energy in all directions. It was my first exposure to what truly is the Dance Marathon "family" and since then, not a day goes by that I haven't fallen more and more in love with this organization.
Later that spring, I joined an IUDM committee (s/o Hospital Relations) and met the people that would alter the trajectory of my life thereafter. I soon learned that IUDM was to become the family I never knew I needed. A family that shares a passion with you, fiercely loves you, supports you and never leaves you.
IUDM is a family much like Riley. A family complete with physicians, nurses, child-life specialists, children and families & thousands of college students who dedicate their time and energy to something much bigger than themselves.
My reason for dancing has become so incredibly abstract because of the people I have met along the way. Whether it be the Riley kids and Riley families, the doctors, professors, executives, child life specialists, and nurses or one of the 3,500 members of IUDM I have come to meet throughout this journey, each person and memory I have from this wonderful organization has become a part of my heart I will never let go of.
For 29 Years of Legacy
IUDM was founded in 1991 by friends of Ryan White intoner of his battle against HIV/AIDs. 29 years later, IUDM has raised over $32 million for Riley Hospital for Children. IU Dance Marathon has become the second-largest student-run philanthropic event in the nation and the largest Children’s Miracle Network Marathon to date.
For Ryan and Ashley
On April 8, 1990, Ryan White lost his courageous battle against HIV/AIDs at the age of 18, the spring before he planned to attend Indiana University. His fight to help those afflicted with infectious diseases was continued, in part, when Jill Stewart decided that she needed to do more to honor Ryan’s legacy. She then created, Indiana University Dance Marathon.
IUDM was established to memorialize the courageous story of Ryan White. Now, more than 29 years later, the letters R.W. emulate courage, perseverance, and never giving up on something you believe in.
His is a story of a person that we strive to be more like each in IU Dance Marathon and who legacy we honor with overwhelming pride.
Ashley Louise Crouse was a member of the IUDM Executive Council in 2004 and 2005 before she was tragically taken in a car accident. ALC was an inspiration to IUDM because of her passion for life. She lived by these words: “For every person you meet, imagine they are wearing a necklace that says, ‘do what you can to make me feel special.” We are so proud to dance in her name and legacy.
For The Kids
25% of our funds support clinical programming, while 75% contribute to research in areas including: infectious disease, oncology, diabetes, neurodevelopment, the heart center, and more at the Wells Center for Pediatric Research. Clinical research discoveries made possibly by IUDM have impacted children not only in the state of Indiana, but around the world.
IUDM has given me more than I can ever give back. Ryan’s words inspired Jill and all those students in 1990 to build a culture of inclusivity and change and that is why we dance. We dance so kids can grow up and affect change in the lives of others.
To all who have supported me, Riley Hospital for Children, and IUDM throughout my Dance Marathon journey - thank you. Thank you for sharing this with me. It wouldn’t be possible without you. You have forever made a mark on Riley kids and families.
FTK Always and in All Ways,