12-year-old Indianapolis girl selected as Indiana Ambassador by Riley Children’s Foundation

Riley kid Riley Lesh with Dr. Paul Haut
Riley kid Riley Lesh with Dr. Paul Haut

Riley Lesh has more friends in college than the average sixth-grader. Then again, most sixth-graders haven’t been to 139 collegiate and high school Riley Dance Marathons in the past seven years. But Riley isn’t like most of the kids her age.

Born three and a half months premature, Riley spent 90 days in the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). During all of the follow-up appointments and check-ups, Riley Hospital became the Lesh family’s “second home.”

Since her stay in the NICU, Riley and her parents, Rick and Julie Lesh, have devoted their time to giving back to the hospital that saved Riley’s life. Riley has made more than 100 blankets for the Riley NICU and has spent the past seven years sharing her story at Riley Dance Marathons.

Riley has attended 139 Riley Dance Marathons since 2006—the most ever by a kid, according to Children’s Miracle Network. This past year, Riley decided to do more than share her story—she decided to raise money too. Riley signed up as a dancer at seven collegiate dance marathons and raised more than $2,150 for Riley Hospital. To raise money, Riley made and sold loom bracelets at the dance marathons and other events.

Honoring Riley’s Philanthropic Commitment
On Monday, June 9, Riley Children’s Foundation will officially honor Riley as the 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion for Indiana. 

The Champions program brings 50 children together from across the country that all have tackled severe medical challenges. Riley will help represent the 17 million children that are treated at 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals each year. Through the Champions program, she will continue supporting fundraising campaigns for Riley Hospital. In November, Riley and her family will visit Walt Disney World and Washington, D.C. from November 8-18, to inspire others to support children’s hospitals. Delta Air Lines, Marriott and Chico’s FAS, Inc. are the official sponsors of the 2014 Champions program.

Riley will receive surprise gifts to prepare her for her trip. Her gymnastics coach, Riley Hospital caregivers and collegiate friends from Riley Dance Marathon events will be in attendance.

Riley’s recognition event will kick off with a gymnastics performance by The Gymnastics Company and will conclude with a dance party honoring Riley’s love of Riley Dance Marathons.

WHAT: Recognition event
Riley Hospital patient Riley Lesh to receive honor as 2014 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Champion for Indiana

WHO: Riley Lesh and her parents Rick and Julie Lesh
Robin Bellinger, Chief Development Officer, Riley Children’s Foundation
Dr. Paul Haut, Chief Medical Officer, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health
Russ Williams, Chief Operations Officer, Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health
Kim Dykes, Riley’s gymnastics coach and owner, The Gymnastics Company

WHEN: Monday, June 9, 2014
2 p.m. – Gymnastics performance (The Gymnastics Company)
2:05 p.m. – Recognition event
2:20 p.m. – Dance party with Riley Lesh and hospital patients

WHERE: Riley Hospital for Children
Simon Family Tower Main Lobby
705 Riley Hospital Drive

About Riley Children’s Foundation
Riley Children’s Foundation supports Riley Hospital for Children, Camp Riley and the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home. As Indiana’s only nationally ranked and comprehensive children’s hospital, Riley Hospital has provided compassionate care, support and comfort to children and their families since 1924. Each year children from all 92 Indiana counties turn to Riley Hospital and its regional clinics more than 300,000 times as well as an additional 100,000 times in clinics and hospitals staffed by Riley physicians throughout the state. RileyKids.org 

About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $4.7 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity’s Miracle Balloon icon. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit’s mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children’s hospitals need community support, and learn about your member hospital, at CMNHospitals.org and facebook.com/CMNHospitals.


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