This past weekend, 4,000 college students came together and stood for 36 hours in order to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Overcoming laughter, tears, piggy back rides and inspirational talks from Riley families, students learned that their efforts had resulted in raising $3,880,025.22 for the hospital—a record amount for IUDM and the difference between this years total and last years total was the largest jump in Children’s Miracle Network Hospital’s history.
IUDM is the largest student organization at IU and the second largest student-run philanthropy in the nation, but many people are unaware of the effects it has on its participants. What happens when you join IUDM, you ask?
- You’re able to meet people you never would’ve encountered before.
IUDM is traditionally seen as a Greek event, however, that’s far from the truth. Although almost every house is represented in some capacity, a large percentage of participants are not Greek, and choose to dance with their committee or a different club group. No matter what you’re involved in of outside IUDM, you’re sure to find people that’ll help the 36 hours pass.
- You get to meet and interact with the kids and families that you’re impacting.
The Riley Development area is a place where dancers and committee members are welcome to come meet and hang out with Riley kids of all ages. Together, you can paint faces, play in the bounce house, eat cotton candy, play video games and ultimately be a kid again. They love hanging out with you and getting to know what it’s like to be a college kid, but the real joy is when you make new friends with the people your fundraising is directly impacting.
- You push yourself to your limits—again, and again, and again.
One day, you’ll reach your fundraising goal. However, there’ll still be time before IUDM for you to fundraise more. So you raise the goal, hit it again, and keep pushing yourself to totals you didn’t even think were possible. At the marathon, you’ll think you’ve had enough by hour 27. But come hour 36, you’ll be crying of joy surrounded by your closest friends, watching a total come up that YOU helped to contribute to. When you walk out of the Tennis Center, you’re going to want to do it all over again. (after a nap, of course.)
- You get to act like a kid for a weekend.
College students are bombarded with essays, group meetings, jobs and other stresses that come with, well, life. Being at IUDM means that being a kid is your top priority—from face painting to piggy back rides and not having a curfew, (or a bedtime) the Riley kids love when college students take time to interact with them and relate to their situations. These moments are the ones the kids will remember for the rest of their lives and so will you.
- You get some really sick photos.
Though one of the least important aspects of the weekend, the enthusiastic setting and the wonder surrounding the event is amazing—there are colors everywhere, ecstatic expressions and cute Riley kids (maybe even in the occasional Halloween costume). These photos are great to send to those who have donated to you as a thank you, giving them a first-hand look at what you did in honor of their donation.
- You’re able to see your hard work and efforts pay off.
Most committee members have at least one opportunity to visit Riley and see firsthand where their money and efforts are going. At the end of the 36 hours, you get to see the total be raised in one giant, emotional event. You have a chance to meet and play with the Riley kids you’re impacting, and they are SO excited to spend time with you. There is no better feeling than being a part of something as large as $3.88 million that does such wonderful things—trust me.
- You can take a step back and realize it’s not always about you.
As college students, it’s easy to focus on yourself—what’s best for you in terms of your career, future, social life and everything else. But for one weekend, you get to see that there are issues out in the world that not even you can comprehend. There are things that can happen that people have no control over, but you have the power to positively influence research and the futures of these children. Selflessness radiates through the Tennis Center on IUDM weekend, and it’s enough to stay with you for weeks afterwards.
- You become a part of something bigger than yourself.
It’s rare in your LIFETIME to find something that you can be a part of that is almost unbelievably larger than yourself. Student groups aren’t uncommon, but not everyone raises almost $25 million in 25 years for a children’s hospital—that’s something that will not only stick with you, but also give you stories to tell for years to come.
- You find a family within your committee.
Many dancers choose to dance with their sorority, fraternity, freshmen or neighborhood group. Others, however, join one of the 17 committees devoted to improving a specific part of IUDM. From Finance to Public Relations, there’s a place for everyone within IUDM. Once you find your place, you’ll meet around 80 people or more that want nothing but the best for you. They will support you, inspire you, cheer for you on your best days and help you through your worst. Through the weekly meetings and standing 36 hours, you’ll truly become a family.
- You change your life.
Someone wise once said, “If you want to change someone else’s life, do dance marathon. If you want to change your life, do dance marathon.” And that’s exactly true. There is no greater way to have an impact on society than when you’re part of IUDM. Almost $4 million is a value that is hard to grasp, but was achieved.