The Power of Riley (in six words)

Ben Edwards
Ben Edwards

I know that many of you who read this Riley Blog have in one way or another supported or donated to Riley. I would like to share six words that describe my family’s Riley experience, and explain why your generosity is so important to us and to Riley Hospital.


The first word is “disease.” Break that word down and you will see that it says dis-ease, or the opposite of being “at ease.” On April 18, 2011, my wife and I found out that a malignant brain tumor threatened our toddler son’s life. I remember the dis-ease I felt when looking at both the stricken faces of Ben’s doctors and at the MRI taken his first night at Riley. That was the night I prepared myself as best I could for my son’s death.


The second word is “research.” Break that word down and you will see that it says re-search, as in to search, and search, and then to “re-search.” Only by experimenting and compiling the results of those experiments can scientists find out more about childhood cancers and diseases. The more that we search the more we know, and the more we know, the better able we are to find successful treatments.


The third word is “funding.” Break that word down and you will see that it says “fun” and “ding.” That’s what we do at many Riley fundraising events: have fun, and "ding" our glasses in celebration of all that Riley can accomplish because of donations.


The fourth word is “Hope.” The first thing you learn when you are Riley is that the word “Hope” doesn’t break down.

Ben’s legs broke down because the tumor on his cerebellum closed off his fourth ventricle which meant his spinal fluid could not drain.

Ben’s mother broke down because she thought she may never be able to hold her little boy again.

Ben's father broke down because he could not stand the thought of his sons being separated.

But Hope didn’t break down.

Neither did Dr. Joel Boaz, Ben’s neurosurgeon. Two days after Ben’s diagnosis, Dr. Boaz spent the entire day in a surgical room where he was sustained by his skills and his passion for saving children. Ben’s family sat in the waiting room, sustained only by hope.

When Dr. Boaz returned to us at the end of a long day, he said “it came out quite nicely,” meaning the tumor. Ben woke up an hour later shouting his own favorite word: “Eat!”

A week later, Dr. Boaz saved Ben’s life again by installing a shunt. Ben then had to have 32 radiation treatments at the IU Proton Therapy Center in Bloomington under the care of Dr. Jeffrey Buschbaum to ensure that the tumor would never return. Even when Ben’s surgical scars would crack open and bleed, or he would throw up from the radiation treatments, the word Hope never broke down.


Diseases can be cured with research, funding, and hope. The money you give allows Riley Hospital to exist, and Riley saves children. Ben has now been cancer-free for nearly three years and suffers no physical or cognitive defects from his ordeal. Whenever I think of Riley, I need only two words:


Chris Edwards, Ed. D.

Chris Edwards, Ed.D, teaches AP World History teacher at Fishers High School, and is the author of several books including 'Teaching Genius: Redefining Education with Lessons from Science and Philosophy.' Chris donates the royalties from 'Teaching Genius' to Riley Children's Foundation in support of pediatric cancer research at Riley Hospital. Chris and his wife Beth live in New Palestine are the parents of two boys, Blake, and Ben, who is doing well after being treated at Riley for a cancerous brain tumor.

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