Saving kids, breaking records

It was a record-breaking 12 hours, in more ways than one.

270 Butler students and community members stood for 12 straight hours Saturday in an effort to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children as a part of Butler University Dance Marathon.  Collectively, they raised more than $100,000, surpassing last year’s total by more than $20,000.

The money goes towards cancer research and daily operations at Riley.

Kevin O’Keefe, president and CEO of Riley Children’s Foundation, opened the marathon by putting fundraising efforts into perspective.  He said 120 children at Riley were moved into a new building this week because of fundraising efforts.

“We can only do things like that because we have great friends like you who care enough about the kids to come together and raise money for them,” O’Keefe said.

An oncologist from Riley said she is thankful for the money that, in part, helps fund additional research.

“I also see the small things that we do with your money, like help a kid celebrate his birthday when he or she has to spend it in the hospital,” she said.

A mother of a Riley patient told dancers that it’s the small things that make a difference for families at Riley.

“Every dime you raise makes a difference for a Riley kid. Don’t ever think that it doesn’t,” she said.

Sophomore Ally Pauszek, family relations chair for BUDM, said she has seen the direct impact BUDM can have on patients and their families.

“Riley children inspire me daily that anything is possible,” she said.

Pauszek said this year’s fundraising is sure to make a difference for the kids.

“I think this year we will be able to make the greatest impact yet,” she said.

President of BUDM senior Hilary Broderick said the most obvious impact Butler has on Riley is monetary, but that isn’t the most important.

“I think the biggest impact it has is on the students and families that directly participate,” she said.  “It has a had a huge impact on my college experience through the people I’ve met.

“It’s changed the way I see my own life.”

While BUDM is filled with meaning, it also has a silly side.

Broderick said the atmosphere at BUDM is unlike anything else.

“It’s constantly upbeat and fun with an undertone of meaning,” she said.  “It’s a celebration of life and what we students can do to support a hospital that makes a difference in so many people’s lives.”

This year participants broke five world records in the process.  They broke the world’s largest leap frog line record, the world’s largest group singing “Row Row Row Your Boat,” in a round and the world’s largest group doing the “running man.”

They also broke the record for the world’s largest zumba dance, as well as the record for most world record attempts made in one hour at a 12-hour marathon.

Dancers proudly wore purple wristbands pledging to “stand for those who can’t.”  They also learned a dance medley throughout the day of which was“for the kids,” as the organization’s motto proclaims.

BUDM has adopted an additional motto, a set of initials: SMC.

The letters stand for Sarah Michelle Cohen, a young woman who passed away less than two years ago.

Her brother Ben is a 2010 Butler graduate who spoke at Saturday’s event.

“Even though she [Sarah] can’t be here tonight, I know that she is here in spirit with every one of you,” he said.  “Keeping ‘SMC’ as part of Butler Dance Marathon means so much for me and my family.”

Ben and Sarah’s mother also said the marathon means a lot to her.

“I just want you to know that what you are doing by standing on your feet and thinking about the children and helping the doctors at Riley Hospital means more to me and our family and so many people that aren’t able to come up and share their story,” she said.