The Purdue University Dance Marathon is in full swing. Miracles Day began at 8 p.m. on Monday with the candlelight ceremony at the Engineering Fountain.
Each guest was given a candle upon arrival and a single flame was slowly extended to each wick until each candle glowed under the night sky.
The event brought together a large crowd of around 150 people, circling half of the Engineering Fountain, waiting to hear Brandon Scott, a member of a Riley family, share his story.
The Riley families are families whose members have received ongoing care at Riley’s Children Hospital. They illustrate the care provided by Riley’s Children Hospital.
When Scott began to speak, a solemn silence spread through the crowd. Everyone knelt down to listen to him speak, eager to capture every detail of his experience.
“My Riley’s story started a long time ago, in 1987 when I was born I was missing almost all four limbs.
“My parents were looking for answers from different resources and doctors so they could help me lead a normal productive life. They were referred to Riley.
“We met some great doctors who helped us undergo 15 different orthopedic surgeries for myself. All of these services helped me become more independent in my life and also helped my parents feel more comfortable.
Scott spoke for 10 minutes, which was greeted with thunderous applause at the end. The hot, humid air was starting to cool and slowly everyone got up from their knees.
The crowd then blew out their candles and threw them safely into a large bucket.
After the candles were out, some PUDM members began their 24-hour dance marathon near the bell tower. The other members went to the Wilmeth Active Learning Center to fundraise online.
Events like Miracles Day take about two months to plan ahead, said Chris Priebe, fundraising manager.
“We start working on an action plan, so we look at the goals of our members, what kind of programming we want. For example, something like that, it will be like programming.
There was energy and passion in the PUDM members who started their 24 hour dance. They were enthusiastic and dressed in PUDM products and jewelry.
Inside the Wilmeth Active Learning Center, every time someone received a donation, the whole room erupted into applause.
“The monetary goal of the whole event is to try to raise as much money as possible, each participant has their own goal… associated with a fact. For example, my goal today is to bring my fundraising page to 4,300 for the 43 kids diagnosed with cancer each day, ”said Jill Kissinger, vice president of finance.
Priebe said Riley’s children’s talent show came to him as a meaningful experience.
“It’s just a bunch of Riley’s kids, and they all do a different kind of performance,” he said. “For example, Chris Hauffman and Alyson Woodridge and a few others sang songs. Alyson Woodridge sang Fight Song, which had a big impact – seeing kids having fun on stage and knowing that they still have the opportunity to be a kid.
The day of miracles ends at 8 p.m.