At some point in our lives, we’ve all been to the hospital. Maybe the reason you were there was as simple as the day you were born, a common cold, the flu, a broken bone, a check-up, chickenpox, or even receiving a shot. If you’ve been to a hospital for any of the reasons listed above, then maybe you’ve been to Riley Children’s Hospital in downtown Indianapolis. Even if you haven’t been to Riley, you’ve most likely heard about Jagathon, IUPUI’s dance marathon.
This year, IUPUI’s Dance Marathon hosted its 22nd annual Jagathon. The event had many activities such as a silent disco, water pong, karaoke, etc. Attendees donated to the event’s cause throughout the night, which led to a total of $320,032.25 being raised for the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research. This center conducts research to develop life-saving treatments, for Riley Children’s Hospital, as well as other organizations.
Susan, who asked to be referred to only by her first name, was willing to share her story along with the story of her two sons, Kristopher and CJ, aged 21 and 26. Addyson, who also asked to be referred to only by her first name, shared the story of her daughter Hope, aged nine, and her son Leo, aged 15.
Aidan: Why did your kids go to Riley?
Susan: CJ had lymphangioma and Kristopher has congenital nystagmus, fetal alcohol syndrome, and overall muscle weakness. Kristopher has had eye surgery and surgery on his feet. Kristopher also has chronic problems and learning disabilities. My biggest fear is about some of the physical challenges Kristopher faces as he will never be able to drive. We also worry about some of the mental challenges Kristopher faces- our biggest worry is that someone will try to exploit Kristopher. It’s nice to have people at Riley we can talk to about these things.
Addyson: Hope was born with Spina bifida which has required a lot of different surgeries at Riley. Leo, my son, has also been to Riley and he has leukemia.
Aidan: Is this your first year going to Jagathon?
Susan: No. This is our fifth year now.
Addyson: No, we've been going since 2016, so this is our 7th year.
Aidan: What made you want to come to this event tonight?
Susan: We’ve been here before and we enjoy meeting all the kids, we have friends that we still keep in contact with and it’s such a good cause. It’s heartwarming to know that people are out here raising money not for themselves, but for other kids.
Addyson: It's one of our favorite events, we do a lot of marathons, but Jagathon hosts a lot of events and keeps the kids involved; they also have the best alumni support.
Aidan: Why do you think an event like this is important?
Susan: I think it's the support that this event provides for families- it changes their minds once they hear the stories of the families. I say, go take a tour of Riley and see what they're all about. Once while I was at the hospital I saw a kid sitting in a wagon at Riley with tubes coming out of his body despite this the kid had the biggest smile on his face. It's important to know what Riley and Jagathon are all about.
Addyson: It's a fun way for kids to get involved in fundraising, they do a lot of promoting, and they show a lot of stories and show the impact that Jagathon makes.
Aidan: What has been your favorite part of this event?
Susan: My favorite part is just meeting everyone and meeting some amazing and fascinating people both families and dancers, some of whom become lifelong friends.
Kristopher: Singing in the talent show and playing board games was my favorite part
Addyson: Seeing the other Riley families, and getting to know those families, whenever we see them it’s like having a family reunion.
Aidan: Would you recommend others come to this event?
Hope: Yes, I suggest people who don't have a Riley kid come. It's amazing the things that people do here. The love, the kindness, and it's amazing to see how much money is raised. (Susan)
Addyson: Yes, most of the events are a lot of fun, you get very involved, and the more people that come the more money raised.
Aidan: Last question, if you could send a message to other Riley families who are benefiting from Jagathon what would you say?
Susan: Something I would want to say is never give up. A lot of them are going through painful procedures and anxiety. Never give up, stay strong. Lean on the people at Riley and other families.
Addyson: Get involved and help the kids see where the money goes and show them the impact and support they are making and where the money goes to the families.
The journey of Susan and Addyson’s families through Riley was one of hope, which gets to the essence of the message Jagathon tries to spread. That is why it’s important to look past the dancing and games and know the impact that this event has on the families who have been to Riley.
For next year, there are so many ways students can get involved with Jagathon. They can form a team or fundraise on their own, or they can join a division as a committee member, getting involved with Family Relations, Traditions, Fundraising, Morale, or even becoming a dancer to teach the participants the morale dances.
Either way, it is an event worth attending,
“Every dollar raised means another dollar raised means another birthday I get to spend with my child.”~Melissa Swathwood.