February 23, 2015

Dance Marathon

The Ball State Dance Marathon raised a record $502,103 for Riley Hospital for Children.

A cheering, wildly enthusiastic crowd saw $502,103 go up on the tally board as the Ball State University’s Dance Marathon ended early Sunday — a record amount raised at this event to benefit Riley Hospital for Children.

For many, including BSUDM committee member Megan Herbstreith, the fundraiser is more than a chance to do something good. It’s a personal imperative.

"I DM for one of my friends who was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago," says Herbstreith, a senior majoring in interior design. "She won her battle, but her career dreams were taken away because she had to deal with cancer and take care of her health. I fight for this cause because I never want anyone else to have to go through what she did."

The 12-hour event included games, dancing, music, and testimonials from parents and children who have received care from Riley Hospital. Crossing that half-million-dollar mark is a first in the group’s 13-year history and beats last year’s collection by more than $157,000.

Ball State President Paul W. Ferguson and First Lady Grace Ferguson participated in the event.

"Grace and I were so honored and humbled to support and participate in the BSU Dance Marathon," Ferguson said. "BSUDM is a great example of the generous and entrepreneurial qualities of our students and their impact on our community — especially for those in need of support such as the Riley Kids."

Colts' Matt Overton boosts fundraiser

Dance Marathon donations graph

The Ball State Dance Marathon has continuously raised more money over the past several years.

The marathon night is the culmination of efforts that involved almost 1,800 people.

"The best part about BSUDM for me is seeing the campus come together for a great cause," Herbstreith says. "Riley Hospital is so close to Ball State; it’s great to see students joining together to help an awesome place near our own community."

The week before, a social media campaign—using the hashtag #FTK or For the Kids—jumpstarted fundraising. The students collected nearly $38,000 before the event even began.

That included support from Matt Overton, Indianapolis Colts long snapper. He pledged $1 for every new Twitter follower he received in roughly five hours. Thousands of retweets meant some 4,000 new followers for Overton, a longtime Riley volunteer, who eagerly made the $4,000 donation.

Overton told ESPN the effort was, "Just my way to ... give back to a great cause."

Marathon helps thousands of children

The Ball State event is one of 60 dance marathons held annually by college and high school students across Indiana. Funds support the estimated 12,000 children who require extended care each year, as well as the 150,000 others who are treated on an outpatient basis. No Indiana child is ever denied treatment due to a family’s inability to pay.

Kylie Marcus, a senior public relations major, says she’s considering a career in nonprofits because of her involvement in BSUDM. The lasting relationships she’s formed with families who have benefited from the marathon fuel her resolve.

"My freshman year, I was looking to get involved with an organization that really made a difference in our community," Marcus says. "Dance Marathon provided exactly that. We are committed to our mission ... and hope to create an inspiring, powerful, transformative experience with our marathon."