Why I'm "Riley For Life"
Riley Hospital for Children is one of the most magical places on Earth, in my opinion. My sister was a patient at Riley as a newborn, but I needed support too. I was 9 years old, very aware of everything that was happening but not understanding it. I remember being so fuming mad that my only sibling, who I had waited so long for, was in a hospital and I couldn't play with her. It was terrible, but the staff at Riley made it bearable when I was there. Cassi ended up having a left arm amputation, but because of the amazing people at Riley she's lived a normal life with only minor issues that she's overcome.
That passion for Riley led me to join the Purdue University Dance Marathon (PUDM) Riley Development committee member in 2013. I set a goal to raise $900, and ended up raising over $1,000. During my first year on the Executive Board in 2014, I set a goal of $2,500 and ended up raising around $3,000. In my second year as an Exec in 2015, I set what seemed like an unattainable goal of $5,000, and again I was lucky enough to reach that too.
For me, donating my own money was instrumental in every one of these milestones in my DM journey. Last year I was able to donate over $1,000 to PUDM throughout the year, which makes me a Riley Society member. I am a photographer, and the majority of those donations come from mini sessions where I donate all that I get paid directly to my fundraising page. On special days throughout the year (like Day of Miracles) I'll donate a few hundred to other members who I feel go above and beyond for PUDM.
The decision for me to donate personally at the Riley Society level comes from my personal experience with Riley and knowing the difference the money makes. It's also a chance for me to give back to and through an organization that I'm so passionate about. One of my fellow Vice Presidents, Conrad Koehler, also donates at the Riley Society level said it best: "I donate personally because I am thankful for having a healthy childhood and for never having to see the inside of Riley growing up. I want to give to Riley so my future family never has to experience what it's like to grow up in a hospital. I want there to be a bright future for every child born."
Another Exec member, Louis Kissinger, says, "I choose to donate because of the good fortune me and my family have been able to have growing up. I want to help provide that normalcy for every family."
There's so much healing and hope that happens at Riley. Every time I walk back into the hospital, whether in the new tower or the old atrium, I'm in awe of everything Riley does and has done for me, my family, and kiddos everywhere.
I'm pursuing a degree in Human Services and hope to one day work either at Riley Children's Foundation, putting my Dance Marathon and marketing/media experience to use, or in the Riley Hospital Child Life department, working alongside so many miracle makers who have inspired me and made the biggest difference. I will be "Riley for Life" no matter where life takes me, and I am confident that I'll continue to give back to and be a part of the Riley family that I love and appreciate so dearly.
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