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Indiana Wesleyan University Senior Receives 2017 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award

From the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in Miracle Network Dance Marathon at the approximately 300 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada, twenty students were selected to receive the 2017 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. To see all of this year’s recipients, click here


Dance Marathon Involvement: I served as founder and Co-President of Dance Marathon in the 2016-17 school year at Indiana Wesleyan University.  I came to school here with a vision of bringing Dance Marathon to campus and the surrounding community in my freshman year.  Following some difficulties and struggles, I was able to establish lasting relationships with administration and the appropriate student engagement groups to ensure a successful event.  All the while, making efforts to establish IWUDM as a long-standing student organization that is successful in bringing awareness and support to the families impacted by Riley Hospital.

Campus/Community Involvement: My initial involvement on campus began freshman year with a job working in mail services and student government association as one of two freshmen class representatives.  My sophomore year, I earned an appointed position by student body president as the Vice President for Student Programming and began working as a financial peer coach with a brand-new program on campus seeking to assist peers on an accountability standpoint with their finances and establish biblical principles that will have lasting impacts on how they coordinate their finances today and in the future..

Awards/Recognition: This past year, I was selected by the Business Division faculty as a school representative to compete in the I69 Grant County Economic Growth Council business ideation challenge in which my team placed first.  Additionally, I was selected and honored by Student Alumni Association as an outstanding student leader among many of my other peers during a banquet held on campus.

Post-Graduation Plans: I will be graduating a semester early in December of 2017.  Currently, I am pursuing opportunities as a Healthcare Facility Administrator or within productions and operations management following graduation somewhere in the area back home in northern Indiana or Indianapolis area.  I would love to initiate an alumni program for IWUDM and seek out opportunities to be connected with the “Friends of Riley” program.

Kyle with the Indiana Wesleyan Dance Marathon leadership team and their 2017 fundraising total benefitting Riley Children’s Foundation.

What personal accomplishment/contribution are you most proud of from your involvement in Dance Marathon?

During our Dance Marathon this past year, something beautiful happened. A four-year-old boy came out of his shell, and lit up the entire room. It was later into the night of the event and his energy was so prevalent in the room. As students gathered around this child, I observed from a distance and it was the most beautiful thing as I could see on the faces of the students that they understand Dance Marathon now – they saw how their involvement as a dancer was ultimately to bring hope and joy to these families that have endured through more than most of us could ever imagine. Following shortly after this happened, his parents took him on stage and shared their story from Riley. Their story was filled with love and hope, but what hit me the most was when his mom shared that she and her husband had never seen their child with the energy and joy that he had throughout the night. They were reminded of the times before his difficulties began at the hospital that the doctors told them he would never be able to run, play sports, or do flips. This event, all the hard work and planning put into making it happen, to ultimately experience this child run around as his parents stare in awe of this new light from within their son – that’s what I am most proud of. It was not what I specifically did, but what our team was able to accomplish together. I constantly reminded my EXEC team that everything we did for Dance Marathon needed to come back to these families and to lift them up – we were able to do just that all night long for each of the families in attendance.

How has Dance Marathon impacted you as a student leader? What specific skills have you developed during your involvement?

Leading Dance Marathon is easily one of, if not the, single greatest thing that happened during my time at Indiana Wesleyan University. I was blessed to be involved with Dance Marathon in high school as a “mini-marathon,” but this did not compare to my involvement in college. I had opportunities to serve my peers prior to Dance Marathon in college, but not in the same capacity as this program allowed me to. As a student leader, Dance Marathon has taught me fellowship, accountability, and decision-making skills. Dance Marathon gave me the opportunity to constantly pursue my peers and the community to become engaged with a program that gives them an opportunity to be involved with impacting the lives of others. It taught me the importance and the impact of gathering together for a single cause and the exponential growth that occurs when we stand united for something. I formed so many friendships in my final year of attending school, friendships that are deeper than others formed during the years before. Dance Marathon taught me how being a leader requires a tremendous amount of accountability, and was one of the first times that I felt others were dependent on me as a facilitator to accomplish the things they needed to do.  It taught me how to understand how to interact with different personalities in a way that is encouraging and challenges them to work outside of their comfort zones.  My oral and written communication skills improved significantly, both in my abilities to communicate with my peers and those in authority over me. As founding Co-President of our initial Dance Marathon, decision-making was something that we encountered daily. There were many decisions that we had to collaborate on and decide together what was in the best interest of the organization, and how to present different difficult situations we found ourselves in to the others in the group.

Why do you, personally, participate in Dance Marathon?

Participation in Dance Marathon, for me, is an opportunity to support my close friends who have been impacted by the hospital. I was never a Riley child, but I have seen through the families who have been there, how incredible their experience has been. I have visited several times and seen the level of care and the attention to detail provided for every one of these kiddos and their family members. Every time I go back to the hospital, it seems that they are doing something new to make the experience that much better. Additionally, Dance Marathon is an opportunity for families like the one I shared about before, to receive love and attention from complete strangers. It is an opportunity to reinforce the hope that happens because of the level of care they receive at the hospital. I do Dance Marathon to facilitate personal growth and experience stories of hope and inspiration, and to be there for the stories of sadness and remembrance. I want to continue to be involved with Dance Marathon and Riley Hospital until every child walks out of that building with a clean bill of health and/or is able to live the rest of their lives without fear for what is to come – with hope, knowing that whatever may happen, the team at Riley will be there to help guide them through with continued research and major medical breakthroughs.

Why should students get involved with Miracle Network Dance Marathon on their campus?

Dance Marathon involvement, as a student, provides opportunities to be directly involved with families who are in need of a support system. It gives students an opportunity to become a part of something greater than a four-year pursuit of a piece of paper. In most situations, it gives students an opportunity to support their peers, who have at some point been to a Miracle Network hospital or experienced some kind of trauma requiring special medical attention. It gives opportunities for students to begin to see the world with a larger lens than just seeing their own little world and the comfort they live in. It opens the eyes for those who have never experienced difficulties and encourages those who have overcome or are still battling different struggles. Dance Marathon creates opportunities for students to improve or develop their personal and professional skills through the leadership opportunities and interactions with other campus or community bodies. It gives students something to call their own and be able to look back on and see how they were able to tangibly make a difference in the lives of others, and reflect on the impact it had in their own life.

Why should people donate to their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals?

A donation to your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital provides an opportunity to impact your family, your friends, your community, or someone on the other side of the state, country, or world. It is an opportunity to bring hope and healing for today’s patients and those still yet to come. I know for Riley Hospital, it seems relatively easy to see when visiting that the funds they are receiving are being used appropriately. Donations received by your local CMNH may be used in any number of different ways, but no matter what, a donor can be confident that their contributions will be used with careful discernment and attention. Additionally, having an extensive medical history of my own, I know that medical bills can quickly add up for families who are already enduring enough stress and heartache dealing with their loved ones. Donating to your local CMNH provides an opportunity to help keep costs down for families through things like providing more affordable care or breakthroughs in medical operations. This ultimately allows these families to focus on what is important – getting their child happy and healthy again. Lastly, it is important for individuals to understand that they can donate beyond financial means, they can donate their time or their resources to connect with these families or support the staff of these hospitals who work tirelessly to ensure the maximum level of care possible.


Miracle Network Dance Marathon is an international movement, involving over 300 colleges and universities across North America that fundraise for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Since its inception in 1991, Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $180 million–ensuring that no child or family fights pediatric illness or injury alone.

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