IUDM raises $3.8 million in its 25th year



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January Bowen and daughter Mara, 6, talk about Mara what activity Mara is going to do next during the IU Dance Marathon on Saturday. Mara went to Riley Children's Hospital when she got E. Coli when she was two years old and has been coming to IUDM for the last four years. Katelyn Rowe and Katelyn Rowe Buy Photos

Cashie Rohaly had been at the IU Dance Marathon since 8 p.m. Friday night. By 4 p.m. Saturday, her voice was hoarse, and her feet were sore.

As part of the entertainment committee, Rohaly worked at IUDM for the full 36-hours, with a brief break from her committee early Saturday morning. She spent her time planning skits, checking sound systems and keeping everyone on schedule. With so much to do, Rohaly put on a pair of rollerblades to move from one place to the next more quickly.

“And I’ve got the knees of a 90-year-old man, so the rollerblades are actually making them feel better, too,” said Rohaly, a junior in Alpha Xi Delta.

After months of preparation by 1,300 committee members and 36 hours of dancing by 2,700 students, the 2015 IU Dance Marathon raised $3.8 million. More than 50 families from Riley Hospital for Children attended the event.

This year was the 25th annual marathon, and it has grown to include year-round 
fundraising and partner dance marathons at high schools throughout Indiana.

Rohaly was a dancer in the 2014 marathon with her sorority pledge class, and she enjoyed it so much she decided to apply for a committee this year. The 2015 dance marathon is a culmination of the work she began in February.

A “Riley kid,” child patients of Riley Hospital for Children, where money raised at IUDM is donated, had covered Rohaly with red face paint. Her voice was hoarse from all the cheering and shouting, she said. In a rare moment of free time, she wrote encouraging notes to other members of her committee.

“It’s our job to entertain,” she said. “It’s so important to get everyone excited and keep spirits high during an event like this.”

With all of the work and effort from students that went into the event, Rohaly said, to her, the most impressive part of IUDM was still the kids from Riley with whom she was able to interact.

“Watching them hang out with college students and listening to them speak in front of thousands of older kids is amazing,” she said. “They’re all just so interesting. It blows my mind.”

She watched a group of students and children dancing in the middle of the floor for a moment. Then, with more work to do to keep the marathon running, Rohaly rollerbladed away with her binder in hand.

***

Erik Galloway, a senior in service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, danced even when he was just walking around.

“The best way to stay awake is to just keep dancing,” he said. “And I love dancing. It’s the best part of this whole thing.”

This was Galloway’s first and only year participating in IUDM. The only regret he had about the experience was that he didn’t try to do it sooner, he said.

He arrived at 8:45 a.m. Saturday, and eight hours later, he was still full of energy.

“Every time you finish an activity, you kind of want to calm down,” Galloway said. “But you know you can’t, because then you’ll just get too tired. You’ve got to stay hyped.”

He was excited about everything, from the dancing to the kids to the fundraising benchmarks reached. Learning a group line dance was the highlight so far, he said.

“I was in show choir in high school, so learning the choreography and doing that kind of thing is still fun to me,” he said.

He danced away to join a group of his friends from Alpha Phi Omega. A horn suddenly echoed and signaled another hundred dollars raised through the building.Galloway raised his fists in the air, cheered and kept dancing.

***

When January Bowen first brought her daughter Mara to IUDM, Mara was only 2 
years old.

“She didn’t even know what it was,” Bowen said. “She’s just starting to comprehend what it’s really about now. She used to always say, ‘What’s all of this money?’ Now she realizes, and she says, ‘Well, I’m not sick anymore, so this money goes to the kids who are still in the hospital, doesn’t it?’”

Mara, now 6 years old, was a patient for E. coli in Riley Hospital for Children. Bowen has brought her to IUDM every year for the last four years.

“What I like the most is all of the role models for her,” Bowen said. “What more could you ask for other than 3,000 students showing her how to help other people?”

The attitude of IUDM mimics the way Mara was treated at the hospital, Bowen said. Every effort was focused on creating a positive experience for Mara and her family.

Mara insisted that 
everything about the dance marathon is “just fun.” She learned a line dance, joined a group of students jumping rope and painted the faces of students and volunteers.

“This year I’ve painted the most faces,” Mara said. “So far I’ve done cats, rainbows, sunshines and lions. Probably mostly cats.”

The first year the Bowens attended, they didn’t come to the opening ceremony and some of the big events. Now, Bowen said, they make sure not to miss anything. Everything about the dance marathon is too exciting to skip, Bowen said.

“You want your child to grow up to do something great,” Bowen said. “What better way to find great than through something like this?”

When Mara grows up, she said she wants to be a gymnastics instructor, a teacher or a nurse. She wants to try to help other people.

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