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February 23, 2014

Putting the ‘fun’ in ‘fundraiser' in Floyds Knobs

Floyd Central hosts Dance Marathon for Riley Hospital for Children

FLOYDS KNOBS — Laughter and music filled the air in the main gym at Floyd Central High School on Saturday afternoon, as a sea of students in colorful T-shirts learned to do a special dance.

Students, teachers, parents, families and former patients gathered at the school for the Floyd Central Dance Marathon, a fundraising event to assist Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The hospital is the only comprehensive children’s hospital in the state and deals with a variety of patients, from simple cases to the most severe diseases imaginable.

“I really like what it stands for,” said Tierney Flaherty, a 17-year-old Floyd Central senior. “I didn’t do the Dance Marathon last year, and I really regretted not doing it because I see how much fun everybody had.”

Now in its fourth year, the Floyd Central Dance Marathon is hardly just about dancing. The event mixes fun events like dodgeball, 3-on-3 basketball and inflatables with discussions on what Riley Hospital for Children does and the patients it helps.

Riley Hospital helps children like Nick Long, Brownsburg, who suffers from cerebral palsy, growth hormone deficiency and optic atrophy after being born three months premature. It treats children like Ramonie Smith, Indianapolis, who at 20 months old was diagnosed with a rare immune system disorder that led to kidney failure and organ transplant rejection.

“Some of [the Dance Marathon] is really, really fun, to celebrate, and some it’s a little more serious to remind us of what some families and what some kids have to struggle through on a daily basis,” said Tiffany Stansbury, a teacher and the event’s chairperson.

One such story belongs to Julie Taylor, who as a young child suffered from a heart disorder that saw a hole in her heart continue to grow as she aged. She had heart surgery and recovered at Riley Hospital, where she celebrated her fifth birthday in a hospital bed. Today, Taylor is a healthy adult and mother of a freshman at Floyd Central. She came to the event to share her story with the students.

“It was a very heart-wrenching experience for my parents,” Taylor said. “My mom says she still remembers walking in and seeing me in an oxygen tent and all the tubes and whatnot. As a parent now, I feel for her. I know how that would feel if I was in her shoes.”

Taylor first learned about the Dance Marathon when some suspiciously older kids visited her home on Halloween. Instead of asking for candy like the other trick-or-treaters, they asked for funds to help Riley. Taylor knew she had to help.

“ I was hooked, fascinated and so impressed because these kids are so young, and for them to have such heart and helping children — don’t we all have a soft spot for helping children?” Taylor said. “That’s what he’s a part of, and this whole staff here, the adults that are involved supporting the kids. I can’t think of a better way spend their time.”

The sobering moments were scattered between loads of fun. On a stage at one end of the gym, a group of teachers dressed in tie-dyed shirts led the students and taught them dance moves. The 400-plus high school students laughed and smiled as they learned parts of the morale dance, meant to keep the kids engaged during the seven-hour event and honor the Riley children the event helps.

“Morale is all about keeping them excited, keeping them going for the seven hours. So throughout the whole night, they learn pieces of the morale dance,” Stansbury said. “And then once we reveal our [fundraising] total at the end of the night, the last thing we do is the entire morale dance, which is six minutes long. It’s our tribute to the kids at Riley.”

“The dance is really upbeat and fun,” said Flaherty, who served as a morale captain at the event. “Everyone can do it. It’s not really difficult, but it gets people involved people don’t want to come here and stand around.”

In its first year, the Dance Marathon saw 125 students attend and $17,000 raised. Last year, more than 500 students showed up to help raise $45,000. Stansbury said she hopes this year’s event will cross the threshold of $47,500.

In addition to raising funds for Riley Hospital, Stansbury said the event brings the Floyd Central community closer together.

“With the closing ceremony, that’s a pretty emotional moment for our school, but it also creates unity among our student body,” she said. “They get to come and have fun and hang out, but at the end of the night, it’s more about us celebrating our success and the kids at Riley.”  

 

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Allan Leith, and daughter, Grace, Louisville, head back after reaching the now blocked off end of the Big Four Bridge in Jeffersonville Wednesday afternoon.

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