by REAGAN MOTSINGER - Dance Marathon Committee members reflect on the third annual Dance Marathon.
WESTFIELD, Ind. (Feb. 15, 2019) - Loud music. Incredible stories. Neon capes. Unspeakable amounts of glitter. No other night has all of this, and more, except Dance Marathon. Over 400 students came back to school on their day off to spend six hours dancing for the kids.
“I’m just thankful for anybody who showed up, who gave their time, who was on our committee, just that they gave of themselves in a way they didn’t have to, and it fills my heart with abundant joy,” Dance Marathon sponsor Mrs. Sarah Gibbs said.
Mrs. Gibbs and the Dance Marathon planning committee worked tirelessly for months on end to plan every detail of the event. They coordinated food, games and activity schedules, but even then, some things still happened spontaneously.
“For me, the most exciting moment was when everyone was singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ together,” committee president Abi Gift (12) said. “It was really fun because it was something that we didn’t have planned--that’s what made it exciting.”
While the event was designed to be fun, upbeat and exciting, there were also moments throughout the night which were far more emotional. Riley families were invited to share their stories on stage and remind the dancers of why they were dancing.
“I really love hearing the Riley stories because I think it gives you a different perspective, and especially hearing the ones that are families who have come back every single year and decided to re-give their time every year to help us,” Gift said. “I think it’s amazing that they feel so impacted by Riley that they would be willing to come and speak to a group of high schooler's about it, that it means that much to them, so it really inspires me, knowing that we are doing something that means a lot to other people.”
Mrs. Gibbs also felt the impact of the stories, especially because she had a personal connection to the hospital.
“I think it always brings you back to why we’re there,” Mrs. Gibbs said. “It’s the purpose, the heart of why we do it, and I think it gives a face to the truth that kids get sick and we need to do more research to find out what we can do to help them get well. For me, they are always impactful because my brother’s family was there, so I think it’s always a reminder that it can happen to anybody, and that it’s a great purpose and a great cause to support, to help sick kids.”
For Event Operations co-chair Karli Mull (11), the stories also served as motivation to keep going when it got hard.
“You feel your feet hurting immensely on hour three, but then you hear a Riley story and you’re like, ‘This makes it all worth it,’ so every year throughout the marathon, whenever I hear a Riley story, it just makes me push and it lifts all my spirits up,” Mull said.
This year’s marathon brought with it the good news that two Westfield patients had been cured, serving as a reminder the impact that Dance Marathon has had and can have in the future.
“I have a sticker on my laptop that says ‘Right now we dance for a cure, and one day we’ll dance in celebration,’” Mull said. “That’s literally why I do Dance Marathon: so one day, not only I can dance for the kids, but the kids can dance for themselves.”