One Donor's "Why" for Riley Giving Tuesday

November 15, 2018
Topics: Donors, About Us

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Joanie Morris (first row, second from left) with her fellow Riley Society Advisory Council members.

Get ready: Giving Tuesday is coming on November 27. And you’re going to be asked to donate over and over again.

Why donate to Riley Hospital for Children?

For Joanie Morris, Riley Society donor and Riley Society Advisory Council (RSAC) member, her philanthropic motivations stem from personal experience.

Joanie’s career started as a student nurse at Riley Hospital. She went on to hold positions at hospitals around the country, even working a few summers at the Hole in the Wall Gang camp in Connecticut. (Founded by the late actor Paul Newman, the camp provides medically-supervised programs to children with serious illnesses.) But Riley has always held a very special place in her heart. Babies have too. 


“I love babies. I came in loving babies. My favorite job at Riley was in the NICU.” (Newborn Intensive Care Unit.) Decades later, she attended a Riley Society event hosted by Jim Zink. “I learned about the Maternal Fetal Medicine Center, and how money is being raised to hire maternal-fetal medicine specialists,” said Joanie. “The idea of keeping moms and babies together is brilliant.”

The Maternal Fetal Medicine Center will allow moms of high-risk babies to give birth right at Riley, reducing the time between delivery and life-saving care to zero. “This is what hooked me to donate and join the Riley Society Advisory Council,” says Joanie.


Supporting research has a special poignancy for Joanie as well. Her son Mitch’s best friend Joey was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in the second grade. (Joey is more than a friend; he is Mitch’s cousin and the son of another Riley Society Advisory Council member, Briget Chamness.) Today, Joey is cured and thriving. But osteosarcoma—a type of bone cancer—is a pediatric cancer that is one of the toughest to treat. Advances in research are the only way more kids can hope for an outcome like Joey’s. 

Why give on Giving Tuesday when you can donate to Riley any time?

“You are literally doubling your donation on Giving Tuesday,” says Joanie. Thanks to the tremendous partnership with French Lick Resorts, any donation on Giving Tuesday will be matched dollar for dollar. In addition, when the number of individual donors hits 500, Fairway Outdoor will donate $15,000. Every single gift counts!

Giving Tuesday is a big day for the Riley Society Advisory Council too. They will band together that day to help solicit donations which are directed to the hospital’s greatest needs.

Joanie recently spoke to Riley Society supporters at the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research (which sits right behind Riley Hospital.)  “It’s important to continue to raise money not because of what we’re currently funding,” says Joanie. “But because of what we might not be funding. That is what scares me the most. What if we aren’t funding the one person who has the answer to curing a childhood disease?”

That thought—along with healthy babies—keeps her motivated to raise money on Riley Giving Tuesday. 

Visit on November 27 to donate, and learn more. 

Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.

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