What if you could save a child's life?

Be the Hope NOW: The Campaign for Kids

Be the Hope NOW: The Campaign for Kids

GOAL: Raise more than $175,000,000 by 2020

to transform Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health through three high-priority programs:

An optimisitc child patient

“Riley research helped Charlie Smart fight leukemia. Now his family wants to help more kids become survivors.”
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— Charlie Smart, Lafayette, Ind.

What we do

Research and Patient Care

Photo of Charlie Smart

Charlie Smart

What a difference one year makes.

On June 26, 2018, Charlie Smart was as sick as he had ever been. Bald, weak and unable to speak because chemotherapy had made his mouth too sore, he lay silently in his bed in the Riley Cancer Center. Everything went quiet and emotions flooded the room. As Charlie’s sister Lucy held his hand, her stem cells began flowing into his body through an IV. Her gift was Charlie’s best chance to beat his high-risk form of leukemia. And that’s exactly what he did.

On June 26, 2019, the Smart family, their friends and Riley Hospital staff members gathered around Charlie and Lucy as he rang the victory bell. His cancer is gone. His treatment is over. Then, they walked across to Riley’s donor-funded research facility, the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research, and saw what it looks like when hope happens in the lab. Charlie and his family met cancer investigators including Sophie Paczesny, M.D., Ph.D., who are leading a biomarker study that he is enrolled in. “Charlie is alive because of research and the funding that goes into research,” said his mother Julie Smart. Her husband Joe added, “Often when you donate money to different things, you hope it’s going to a good cause. We got to see firsthand that donations are making a difference. The experience helped me understand better how beneficial donations are to the future of this horrible disease.”

A woman, smiling and looking at her baby

“I am so thankful for the people who are donating so more moms like me can receive this incredible care.”
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— Lori Brookshear, Avon, Ind.

What we do

Maternity and Newborn Health

Photo of Ethan Brookshear

Ethan Brookshear

Tension and emotions were heavy in the fetal ultrasound room. “I remember Dr. Schubert telling me to close my eyes,” said Lori Brookshear. She knew too much about what the images on the screen meant for her baby, who wasn’t growing like he should be.

Not only was she an expectant mom in her 26th week of a complex pregnancy, she also works as an ultrasound technician with Riley’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine team.

As tense seconds ticked by, Lori kept her eyes closed. Still, she knew the sound of the blood flow through the umbilical cord wasn’t right. In fact, it was a worst-case scenario.

Her son Ethan had only hours left to survive in the womb. Lori’s placenta was in failure. “That was probably one of the scariest moments of my life,” Lori said through tears. “I knew I may have a live baby, or may not. But I knew that if we kept him in, he would not survive.”

In the maternity unit as Lori’s labor began, Riley Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist Caroline Rouse, M.D., noticed Ethan was in distress. She delivered him quickly via emergency Cesarean section. He weighed just one-and-a-half pounds. Ethan spent most of his first year of life as a patient at Riley Hospital for Children where he fought through serious complications with his intestines and lungs. On August 29, two months shy of Ethan’s first birthday, Lori and Cody Brookshear brought their son home to join his older sister. “I would not have wanted to be anywhere but Riley,” said Lori. “I am so thankful for the people who are donating so more moms like me can receive this incredible care.”

A healthcare professional interacting with a young girl

“Riley healed our daughters' spirits as well as their bodies. The care here is provided with LOVE. How can we say 'thank you' for that?”
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— Heather Strayer, Whiteland, Ind.

What we do

Family Support Programs

Photo of Kennedy and Bailey Strayer

Kennedy and Bailey Strayer

When Heather and Josh Strayer were expecting their second daughter, Kennedy, they discovered she had a significant single ventricle heart defect. The family was living in Arizona, but they decided to return to their family roots in Indianapolis so their daughter could be treated by the exceptional team at the Riley Heart Center.

Riley Pediatric Heart Surgeon John Brown, M.D., performed the first in a series of heart surgeries one week after Kennedy was born. The donor-supported Child Life team at Riley was right there to alleviate fears and provide comfort. “It’s hard to have conversations with doctors and nurses and keep a 4-year-old sibling entertained in a surgery waiting room, so Child Life was really important,” says Heather. “In the Newborn Intensive Care Unit they were so good at helping Kennedy’s older sister Bailey understand why her new baby sister had wires on her, and why couldn’t we pick her up.”

Riley’s social work team also provided valuable support when the family prepared leave the hospital with Kennedy for the first time. “They told me, ‘We’re not going to let you out of here without knowing what she needs, we’re going to teach you everything she needs.’”

Dr. Brown performed Kennedy’s second surgery when she was a toddler. Child Life Specialist Lindsay Morgan patiently prepared Kennedy for surgery, helping her understand what was happening and keeping both sisters calm and entertained. “Child Life is really good at helping her to not be scared,” says Heather.

The Strayers ultimately became a Riley family times two: Bailey underwent treatment for a non-cancerous bone cyst. With both girls doing well today, the Strayers are encouraging every Indiana family to join them in supporting Be the Hope Now: The Campaign for Kids.

#BeTheHopeNOW

and help us by spreading the word and sharing your Riley story.


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