Behind the Scenes: The making of a Riley tour video

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Riley kids Gracie Bennett and Maeci Young are hosts of the new Riley Hospital tour video

Nearly every time I walk down the halls at Riley Hospital, I hear one thought echoing loudly in my mind: “If only more people could see what happens here. If only more people knew.” I’m convinced you can’t witness what some people refer to as “Riley Magic” and not want to do something to help.

My work interviewing Riley families for Riley Children’s Foundation publications has filled me with admiration for the caregivers who make these hard journeys easier. Sometimes I think these staff members are super-human.

These two girls from Danville, Ind., became friends while being treated at Riley—Maeci for lymphoma, Gracie for a brain tumor. Both girls love teaming up to help other kids facing medical challenges. I had a feeling their natural chemistry and humor would add something to this project that no other hosts could bring.While it’s not possible for everyone to visit Riley Hospital, we wanted bring Riley a little closer to home. Our team decided to create a Riley Hospital Tour video so that school children, corporations, donors and others in the community could get a glimpse inside of Riley. I was thrilled to have the chance to lead this project, and decided to enlist the help of two of the most charismatic Riley Kids I know: Gracie Bennett and Maeci Young.

These girls just blew us all away. On the day we filmed their portions of the tour video, Gracie was a bundle of energy. She cracked up the film crew with her trademark “unfiltered” observations, even asking her beloved neurosurgeon during the makeup session, “What are they covering up there, a pimple?” When the two girls busted out wild, sassy dance moves in the Simon Family Tower entryway, Gracie’s mother Stephanie snapped pictures.

It was a long day of shooting with lots and lots of takes. “Okay, that was great – now, just eight more times!” director Tim kept coaxing Gracie. (He learned quickly that she would take him very literally if he asked for “one more time.”)  Maeci’s arms got a workout giving Gracie piggy back rides up and down the Riley hallways. She kept her cool, angelic smile on her face as Gracie poked, prodded and teased her just like a little sister.

Now that the last take is done and the video is complete, we have so many people to thank:

  •   The dozens of Riley staff members who were kind and accommodating as we brought our large crew into challenging spaces and situations (including the operating room, cancer center and burn center)
  • The Riley kids, parents and siblings who served as enthusiastic participants in the video, allowing us to capture an authentic snapshot of life in the hospital
  •  The Road Pictures film crew whose expertise, professionalism and dedication to this project made them unofficial members of the Riley family  
  •  The countless Riley supporters who will choose to take five minutes out of their day to watch the tour video and share it with friend.

I hope when you watch this video, you’ll see what I see: two young friends, full of life, hope and personality, taking you on a journey through the sacred ground where their lives were saved; a place where hope happens because of friends in the community like you.

Click here to watch the Riley Hospital tour video on our YouTube channel.

Trisha Lawless, Manager, Communications, Riley Children's Foundation

Trisha joined the Riley Children’s Foundation Communications team in 2011 after working for 15 years as a television news journalist. Her professional role includes overseeing content for Riley social media, videos and publications such as Riley Messenger magazine. Trisha and her husband Ben Lawless live in Indianapolis and have six children in their newly blended family.

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