By Shawn McGrath
BREMEN — Students and school officials are once again getting ready for Bremen High School’s annual dance marathon to benefit Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
“This is a fun way to raise money for a terrific cause,” Melissa Manges, BHS guidance counselor, said in a statement. “We hope that the dance marathon will build a legacy of giving at Bremen High School.”
The dance marathon is 6 p.m. to midnight Saturday, March 16, at the high school. All Marshall County students are invited.
Organizers hope to raise $5,000 – the same amount as last year, Manges said. The event has raised over $15,000 over the last three years. BHS is partnering with St. Mary’s College in South Bend for the marathon.
The theme of this year’s event is “SPD for Riley.”
SPD stands for shine, pray and believe.
“Shine for Seth. Pray for Dylan. Believe in Brock,” according to Manges.
Seth refers to fifth-grader Seth Young, while Dylan is sophomore Dylan Shumaker, and Brock is sophomore Brock Meister.
Seth, 12, the son of Nick and Brook Young, is in remission after being diagnosed with leukemia in November.
Dylan, 15, the son of Mike and Kay Shumaker, was diagnosed with a form of spinal cord cancer in June, but his condition is improving, according to Manges.
Doctors discovered that Brock, 16, the son of Travis and Jenna Meister, had a rare, malignant brain tumor in October. He is undergoing radiation therapy in Bloomington, and his cancer is 99-percent treatable, according to Manges.
All three received at least some of their treatment at Riley and all are expected to speak during the dance marathon.
McKenna Myers, a fifth grader at Bremen elementary, is also expected to address the crowd. McKenna had a large non-cancerous tumor removed at Riley over the summer.
Manges said there will also be a celebrity guest speaker. The celebrity’s identity is being kept secret until the event, she said.
The marathon is $10 for students and includes food and T-shirt. Students raising more than $50 in donations have their admission fee waived, according to Manges.
Food will be provided free of charge for dancers. Last year, area businesses and restaurants, including Woodies, Subway, McDonald’s and Dairy Queen, donated food, according to Manges.
Door prizes will be awarded during the event. Organizers are still accepting donations from area businesses.
Marathon organizers are still collecting aluminum can tabs to donate to Ronald McDonald House, which provides families of patients a place to stay near Riley.
Students and staff at Bremen Elementary-Middle School are also helping to raise funds, according to Manges.
Other activities planned for the dance marathon include board games, crafts, dodgeball tournament, Wii tournament, swimming, and photo booth.
Members of BEAM – Bettering Every Aspect of Marshall County – are helping to publicize and raise money in their schools and all students can go to the dance marathon.
Students at Culver, Argos, Triton, Plymouth, LaVille, John Glenn, Culver Academies, Plymouth Baptist and Grace Baptist participate in BEAM.
Only students will be dancing, but adults can attend the event.
This year the public is invited to the high school at 4 p.m. the day of the marathon for a screening of “Rudy” in the auditorium. There is no charge to watch the movie, but donations will be accepted.
“My family has been fortunate to not yet need the services at Riley, but if we ever do, I am so glad we have this prestigious facility in our state,” Manges said in a statement.
Riley treats over 80 admissions and 830 outpatients from Marshall County annually, she said. Their policy is to not refuse patients, regardless of their ability to pay. The hospital relies heavily on fundraisers to help its budget.
“Many, many families in Bremen have utilized Riley Hospital for both minor and major illnesses for their children,” Manges said. “Our hope is that through this event, we can help more families access Riley Hospital should the need arise. Who knows, maybe someday the kids who are now students at Bremen will be parents whose children need to go to Riley. If so, they can be proud that they supported this cause.”