Members of Ball State Dance Marathon’s executive board made their way to the stage, large cardboard signs in hand. One by one they lifted their signs to reveal a number even better than we anyone in the room could have hoped for: $502,103.22 FTK (For the Kids)!
That emotions in the room in the moment were beyond what I could explain. As I looked around the crowd, a huge smile plastered on my face, the joy I saw coming from everyone in the room was overwhelming. Some people were crying from ecstasy, others shared a group embrace. Suddenly all the sore backs and blisters on our feet became worth it, because we had come together and done the unbelievable: We had raised over half a million dollars for Riley Children’s hospital.
Throughout the day we had heard multiple inspiring stories from Riley kids and families. We had watched the kids dance and sing despite all of their struggles, and it felt amazing the get them the funding they need and deserve.
I watched hundreds of Ball State students do some very inspiring things for a cause they were clearly passionate about. I saw three women shave their heads after raising $500 each. It was such an amazing experience to see three people sacrifice something so personal, all for the kids they care so much for.
As the closing ceremony wrapped up and I finally plopped down in one of the infamously uncomfortable armchairs around campus, the relief I felt finally taking the pressure off my back and feet was indescribable. It was a close second to the amazing feeling of seeing the total being revealed, knowing not only did we beat our goal but, more importantly, we made a difference in the lives of so many kids.