More Than Dancing (by Katie Alexander)

More Than Dancing

By Katie Alexander

When spring sports were canceled, everyone was devastated. They were heartbroken for all of the seniors. No one wanted to hear that prom was canceled. However, while we may have been fixated on the cancellation of everything else, many other events were canceled that students had been working hard to organize, like the Riley Dance Marathon.

The Riley Dance Marathon, an annual event held at Delta High School, isn’t just dancing for hours on end. This event is a night full of fun activities, dancing being one, to raise money for children and their families that are in the care of Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

This event usually occurs each spring and was scheduled for April 4, 2020, but it has been canceled this year due to COVID-19. However, usually at the event, participants are challenged to stand for six hours without sitting. They play fun games, learn a dance, do zumba, eat, and many other activities. 

This year, before the cancellation, the planning committee of approximately 40 people was still busy raising money, getting donors and sponsors, and contacting Riley families to speak at the event. They hoped to reach their goal, which was $20,000 this year.

Collect RDM

“The Riley Dance Marathon benefits the patients at Riley, as the money goes to a variety of efforts Riley makes to ensure that patients' stays are as comfortable and unscary as possible,” said senior Betsy Marshall, committee member and former Riley kid.

Betsy has been a Riley kid two times herself.  The first time was when she was just three years old for a gastro-intestinal specialist after she had surgery. Then the second time was when she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2018 after an emergency trip to the hospital. There, the Riley staff told her everything she needed to know about managing her diabetes.

“To be able to have the opportunity to give back to the place that has completely changed my life for the better is amazing,” she said.

 She spoke about her journey at last year’s event and decided to join the committee this year. 

“It's so cool to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” she said.

Dance Leaders

Olivia Haney, senior and president of the committee, also has a personal reason to support Riley. Her sister was a Riley kid as well. 

Her sister and Delta graduate, Tara Haney, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was just five years old. She was rushed to Riley where her blood sugar levels were stabilized. 

“Riley holds a very special place in my heart and this is a way of me giving back to them for saving my sister’s life,” Olivia said.


During the dance marathon, children and families who are affected always speak to the participants. Olivia’s favorite story over the years is the Daugherty family, whose son Christian went to Riley. He has since passed away from brain cancer, but “their story really touched many lives,” Olivia said.

However, with this year’s event being cancelled, new challenges have come up. They now have to contact the sponsors and ask if they want their money to go ahead and go to Riley or if they want it back.

“The dollar amount that we are sending this year is very small compared to previous years,” said Mr. Todd Trehearne, committee sponsor and chemistry teacher. He is very hopeful that we can make up for it next year.

Circle Dance

Mr. Trehearne has been a sponsor for three years, and his favorite part of planning the event is “watching it all come together and watching students grow in leadership skills.” He tries to let the students be leaders and not interfere too much. He loves to watch the students create something they are proud of.

Ashleigh Brelage, junior and vice president of the committee, enjoys helping with the Dance Marathon because she knows that all of the work that she is putting in is making a difference. She loves hearing from the families and thinks that is “the most important and impactful part of the night.” 

Riley kid

One of her biggest challenges is getting people motivated to help.

“It is hard to ask people to take time out of their busy lives … but what we do is really important and bigger than ourselves,” Ashleigh said.

This year’s Dance Marathon is unfortunately canceled, but that is just another reason to make next year’s event great. 

Ashleigh said, “What we do may seem small, but it makes a big difference and can truly change lives.”

RDM Total 2019

Delta Dance Marathon


Money Raised for Riley

2016 (First Year)

Over $8,000








(exact money raised not yet available)