March 4th 2018 – Aidric Evensen

On April 1st, 2013, 3 year old Aidric spiked a fever that would not go away even after his mom gave him medicine. When his fever lasted for a few hours, his mom took him to Porter Hospital in Valpo. Several tests later, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and was given insulin injections. After about an hour and a few injections, Aidric slipped into a diabetic coma and began experiencing organ failure. At this very moment, the flight crew for the emergency helicopter for Riley Hospital for Children was walking past Aidric’s door. The crew was able to stabilize Aidric enough to airlift him to Riley. A pediatric genetic specialist at Riley realized that Aidric’s diabetes was caused by a rare genetic mutation that caused his body to stop making insulin until it was given a jump-start. So when he was originally given insulin at Porter Hospital, he went into shock from an insulin overdose.  
 
Today, Aidric has an insulin pump that makes it easier for him to be active. He still attends regular check ups at Riley and must stick to a very strict diet, as well as have his glucose levels checked hourly. We are so thankful to Riley Hospital for Children for everything that they have done to help Aidric!

February 25th 2018 – Kris Kauffman

We decided that we wanted to have more children so knowing that having biological children would not be an option for us we decided to adopt another child.  Kristopher’s birth mother drank, smoked and did not have good nutrition during her pregnancy which caused Kristopher to be born 3 weeks premature and have several medical issues like an overall muscle weakness, vision problems and he was diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.  Kristopher spent 11 days in the NICU because the doctors were afraid that he would not survive.  We had to feed him 2 to 3 ounces at a time several times a day just to keep enough food in his system to help him thrive.  We had him evaluated at 6 months old and found that he was not hitting the milestones that he should be.  They enrolled him in First Steps where he had physical, developmental, occupational and speech therapy every week.  He still has physical and developmental therapy through the school that he attends. 

 
The first time we had him at Riley he had to see a plastic surgeon to have some surgery on one of his feet.  He needed to have this surgery so that he could get shoes on to start walking.  The next time we had him at Riley he saw a few doctors to talk about his small stature. We talked with the doctors at Riley about possibly doing growth hormones.  The doctor’s spent a lot of time with us talking about what would be best for Kristopher and we came away knowing that the very informed decision we made was the right one for Kristopher. 
 
Kristopher still struggles physically and developmentally, but has made great strides.  Several of his teachers have commented that they have never seen Kristopher have a ”bad” day.  He has a real fighting spirit and never gives up.  He can always find a way to get accomplished what he needs to get done. 
 
Riley Hospital has been a real God send for both of our children.  We can’t thank them enough for all they have done for our family.  Because of the wonderful care and support from the doctor’s and staff at Riley Hospital our sons have been allowed to grow into the happy and healthy young men they are today.

November 12th 2017 – Emily Brown

I was a pretty healthy kid up until my early teens.  Shortly before my 14th birthday I noticed my ankles were slightly swollen.  Within days they were extremely swollen and my eyes were starting to swell.  I went to my family doctor who ran lab work that indicated my kidneys were not working correctly and he sent my family and I straight to Riley.  

 

We had my first appointment with the nephrology (kidney) team at Riley and they scheduled a kidney biopsy, which revealed I had an autoimmune kidney disease. Autoimmune means my body was attacking itself and in order to treat it I had to take medicines to suppress my immune system. 

 

I was started on high dose steroids but, unfortunately, my disease was very difficult to treat and I had to have several months of daily chemotherapy as well and was on immunosuppressant medications for years. The medications I took had many side effects and I developed glaucoma, diabetes, and nerve and muscle damage. I was implanted with a spinal cord stimulator (a battery in my lower back connected to electrodes that go inside my spine. The battery sends electrical current along my spinal cord to help “turn off” the nerve pain) to help manage chronic pain caused by chemotherapy. 

 

I missed an entire school year and was frequently absent from school.  I had many hospitalizations at Riley throughout my treatment. My doctor at Riley was incredible and, despite having ongoing complications of my illness and it’s treatment, I have been in a remission from my illness for several years and have gone on to have an incredible life and do things I never thought would be possible, like graduate from college, travel internationally, and become a foster parent.  I am forever grateful for the care I received and will always be a “Riley kid” first and foremost. 

I graduated from IUPUI with a Bachelors and Masters degree in Social Work. I recently started a new job with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. I also recently began fostering a 2 year old little boy. I have a younger sister, Katie, who attends Purdue and is involved with PUDM. 

November 5th 2017 – John Romine

I’ll introduce myself first. My name is Marla White (Stanforth) and I’m a 2009 grad from Purdue. I have three adorable little boys and work as a vet tech.  
 
 I met John our freshman year at Purdue. I was an Animal Science major and befriended many of the Farmhouse guys. They were literally my brothers, and still consider them to be.  John and I were buddies from the start. We had classes together so spent a lot of time studying….which usually led to taking breaks to raid the FH kitchen of lucky charms, chocolate milk, and pranking people.  John was also my running buddy. Two or three times a week, John and I met at the traffic light pole on the corner of Stadium and Russell (I think it has a new name now, but its the one right across from Ford Dining hall) Some evenings we would talk while we ran, but mostly, we just ran in silence.  He would always pick up the pace, and not to be outdone by him, I would try and keep up. Our runs would always end in the FarmHouse parking lot, out of breath, and suddenly laughing at each other’s attempts to sprint.  
 
I remember when John found out he had cancer. Everyone was quiet. Everyone was kinda pissed and shocked too. FarmHouse is family, and it was a shot to the gut for all the guys. Its been so long, I don’t remember all the details. I just remember one of the other brothers explaining it to everyone. John was one of the most faithful persons I’ve ever known. He rarely missed church, bible study, and was a man of constant prayer.  He never strayed from this during his journey. His mom could tell you the story of when they hadn’t heard from him so drove up to campus, anxious and worried that something was wrong or that he was in some kind of trouble. They showed up at the frat house and asked around for John. It was a Sunday, so the first person they asked easily directed them to the church down the road. Sure enough, there he was! 
 
When John started chemo, it was obvious his hair was gonna go. I remember showing up to the house between classes and two of the guys in his pledge class talking about how they were going to shave their heads. We got to talking and I suggested holding an auction, and auctioning off the FH guys to the Sisters of the Harvest Moon (we were the sister sorority to FarmHouse, not a cult, even though the name totally sounds like one!) and raise money for John boy and his medical expenses. Our first little hair auction took place in the FH basement.  Everyone was having probably way too much fun, especially us girls who got to actually shave their heads.  Ever true to character, John stood silent, strong, with a broom in his hand in the corner. He would smile and laugh occasionally at a joke or when he realized what a goofy shaped head one of his brothers had without hair.  He would quietly take his broom and sweep up the hair. The look of love on his face is one I will never forget. Thankfully, I have pictures of that night so I don’t have to. When the evening wrapped up, John went to each brother and gave them a hug. Not a quick little grab of the shoulders, but a real bear hug. A few guys got “I love you’s” and a few guys cried. It was just the start of a long journey. 
 
I can only speak of the John I know….knew. He was my best friend. I confided to him my deepest and darkest secrets. All those runs, in the freezing cold weather, he would listen to me whine about classes, or the latest gossip in my sorority house, even boyfriend trouble. He was always slow to answer, choosing his words wisely. At times, he would reach over and touch my arm to stop me, get that serious John face, look at me very sternly and tell me exactly what he thought I should do. You couldn’t NOT listen in those moments. He was so wise. He was so goofy too. Oh my gosh, we would sit and watch stupid you tube videos in his room or he would show off his new photos of his beltie calves before heading to class. I can still hear his laugh and his blue eyes getting that little glint of mischief! He had beautiful blue eyes! He liked to dance to Cotton Eyed Joe like a fool.I don’t know why I just remembered that! 
 
Junior year things got worse. Then they got better. Then worse. John would be at school for a week, then gone for three. It was so hard. He made the best of it. Wore his “survivor” shirts to class and would sit in front of a row of pretty girls and kinda look back and wink…such a stinker. We never really knew when John would come and go, but man when he showed back up, I swear It was like Christmas every time. The moment you walked in the house you knew if John was back because it was just buzzing with hope. But being at the house when he was gone for treatments sucked. His empty desk and chair, not seeing him in class, running alone. It sounds so selfish to say, but these are the memories I have. 
 
In the meantime, each year the hair auction got bigger. We got it moved to Stewart Center. We got the entire Greek system involved and it was awesome! John couldn’t be there that year though, but his parents and sister were, and they reflect so much of who John is. Kind, strong, generous, sincere and adoring people. Hugging everyone, handing out home made beanies to the boys so their naked heads wouldn’t be cold, and walking around and introducing themselves to students. 
 
The summer between Junior and senior year I had an internship in Indy which meant Riley visits to see John boy. I say this in the sweetest way possible, but John was a momma’s boy! Mama Carol loved her boy and man, did he adore his mom! Carol is the best and John has SO much of her running in his veins! Whenever I would go visit, she would give us privacy or sometimes hang out, but the way he adored his mama was such a sweet testament of their relationship, one I hope to have with my three sons. He was a jokester and would give her a hard time, he would flirt with the nurses with his sheepish little grin, and always listening and sincerely caring about every one he met. I loved those visits because I was selfish and got to take care of John and bring him snacks and rub his feet and learn about his latest treatment….and I realize now that John taught me so much about how to be a servant. He taught me how to do so graciously and modestly and humbly.  
 
Senior year I will never forget getting the call. It was Big/Little sis night at Delta Gamma and everyone was happy and excited and my phone rang and it was John. They found a bone marrow match. I couldn’t have been more excited. So began the tough road of getting him healthy enough to receive it. Unfortunately, that day never came. It took too long to find a match, but even after that realization had sunk in that he would never be healthy enough to receive the life saving marrow, John had a mission. He spread awareness everywhere he went for people to become part of the registry. Just because something may not work out for him, just because he was stuck in a hospital bed, didn’t mean he wouldn’t keep fighting for others. I remember him speaking about how important it was, and his voice was cracking, and he just kept saying “these kids, these little kids at Riley…” he didn’t need to say anymore, but we knew what he meant.  
 
When the final week of John’s life had come, he knew. I remember Carol describing it saying she had never known anyone who attended their own wake. It may sound morbid, but John wanted a chance to say goodbye, and so did we. By we, I mean tons of us who filled the halls of Riley, and the lobby and they had to organize us into visitation groups to be able to see him. The sheer outpouring love for John was so evident that evening. It was a Tuesday. Nurses and doctors at Riley were so kind. Pizza’s and subway mysteriously appeared…a college kids dream..free food! We all waited patiently, some visited patients who were able to accept guests.  I don’t talk much about that night. I remember every detail, and I won’t go into it because this is already so much about ME and it will never be enough about John. John and I had a conversation, awkward as it may be with five other guys in the room plus his mom and a nurse or two. He couldn’t talk, he had too many tubes, but Carol spoke for him. It was my last conversation with John. I came again with a smaller group of closer friends again on Thursday. Our wait was long, so we wrote letters, or studied, or just stared waiting. He was so much worse. His oxygen levels falling, but true to John, he still wanted to be surrounded by his friends and family. He didn’t want to be pampered or pitied, he just wanted to have those he loved around him to comfort him. I think it brought more comfort to us than he.  
 
He died on a Friday. His viewing and funeral were the following week. It was overwhelming the people who came to celebrate the life of John.  
 
PUDM that spring after John’s death was pretty amazing. Sarah Matney (now Becker) a sorority sister of mine and chairmember of PUDM somehow organized it to be in John’s name that year. I made a slide show of pictures of him that they showed, and all the FarmHouse guys showed up and it felt easier this time. We were able to laugh and smile more and not cry quite as much. We did another hair auction there and also Romines ran a table to get dancers signed up to be bone marrow registrants. John’s work wasn’t done! This past summer, a sorority sister who was a few years younger than me was matched to someone and literally saved a child’s life. She contacted me saying if she would have never known me and about John’s story she would have never even known what the bone marrow registry was. If that’s only one life John has saved, and I know its not and won’t be, then I would say John would be pretty happy with that!  
 
I apologize that this has come of more of my memories of him and about my short years with John, but I haven’t just sat and written about it in a long time, so a lot of this all came to me as I was already typing. He is on my mind and in my heart always. I truly loved him and miss him so often. I run the Purdue half marathon every year, and around mile 10 is our old “meeting spot” for our runs and I swear I can hear John teasing saying “We gonna do this today, or are ya gonna keep tying your shoes?” or his usual one word “ready?” 
 
When I saw Carol’s post about being afraid people have forgotten about John. Now that I am a mother, I understand this fear. I want to show her and John that his legacy lives on. John so badly wanted to graduate from Purdue, and because of his illness he was so behind on classes, but he was able to get an associates degree. He wanted that so badly Sent from my iPhone remembered at his favorite place in the world. 
 
Thank you for doing this and for all the hard work you do. I know its tough being a student and being a part of these HUGE committees and balancing everything in your life! It is greatly appreciated and I commend you for everything you do! 
 
Sincerely, 
Marla White 

October 29th 2017 – Megan Weisenbach

Megan Weisenbach was born on March 7th 2000 and the Weisenbach family was blessed with a very special little girl.  Megan was diagnosed with Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) on July 14th 2004. Megan had MPS III A, also called SanfilippoThis was a day that turned our world upside down and changed us all as a family. After 14 months of in and out of doctor’s offices and many tests, we were finally given some answers to help us understand Megan’s rare disease. This was the beginning of our journey as a Riley family that started in 2004 and ended in 2012.    

MPS is a rare genetic lysosomal storage disease caused by the body’s inability to produce specific enzymes.  Normally the body uses enzymes to break down and recycle material in cells.  In individuals with MPS, the missing enzyme prevents the proper recycling process, resulting in the storage of materials in virtually every cell of the body. There are many different types and subtypes of MPS.  MPS III A is one that is lacking the enzyme Heparin Sulfate.  This is a neurological type and the disease progresses over time. The child has mild symptoms early on and then over time loses the ability to eat, talk, and walk and can have many other medical complications.   

We were very fortunate to be part of Riley Hospital for Children.  Megan’s disease specialist at Riley was one of only a few in the state that specialized in her disease.  MPS III A has no cure and there were no treatment options for her disease.  There are currently some trials, but there is very little funding for this rare disease, so research is very limited.   

Megan had many different types of symptoms that we followed and treated as they presented.  She had eight different specialists that followed her for different symptoms, a neurologist, gastroenterologist, orthopedic specialist, pulmonologist, etc.  We spent time in and out of doctor visits.  As her disease progressed and in her final few years, we were in and out of Riley Hospital where she was a patient dealing with different medical issues.  We were very blessed to have wonderful physicians and nurses who cared for her and our family.  Riley truly became a special part of our family.  We were comforted by the care and knowing that she was with the best!        

We had 12 awesome years with Megan and the family times we had together for birthdays and holidays were the best.  Megan was the highlight of the party.  She was nonstop energy and loved going around saying “dododododod” and just giggled and made us all laugh. She soon became known as our Doodlebug!  

Megan had a passion for life, she was a happy and loving little girl, who got up every day with a smile and never complained about what she was given to deal with.  She faced so many aches and pains during her disease and was more courageous than any of us will ever know.  Her strength was amazing and she never knew anything other than what she was given to deal with each and every day.  She had an unconditional love for everyone she met and knew “no strangers”.   

Megan touched so many lives and had a very “special touch”.  She loved to hold hands with her family and friends. Her strength and grip was so strong even into her final hours.  This was her special way of connecting to others especially when she could no longer talk and tell you how much she loved and cared about others.  She had a way of letting you know it would always be OK and we all knew that no matter how bad we really thought things may be, she soon reminded us how lucky we all were and not to take things for granted.  She always loved you no matter what! 

Megan has inspired and touched so many people in her short 12 years with us.  It is hard to believe how much she did accomplish in that short amount of time.  We know she was sent to us as a special gift, our guardian angel and now she is up in heaven in a peaceful place.  She is running, jumping, singing, and just giggling again.  We know when we hear that loud thunder, that she is up there yelling to everyone to “shake your Bootie”.  Megan has taught us so many life lessons and how to live each day to the fullest!    

Just like the song “For Good”, it says that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn, and we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them.  We help them in return and believe that it is true, but we know we are all who we are today, because we knew you, we have been changed for the good.   It will be until we met again, so let us say before we part, so much of me is made from what I learned and loved from you, you’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart!    

As the quote from Mother Theresa says:  “In this life we cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love!”   This is a great summary of how Megan truly lived her life!     

Megan has blessed us and inspired us with so many gifts: love, courage, laughter, strength, and faith!  While she loved attending and being part of the Riley Dance Marathon’s we know she is smiling down and watching over all of you!  We can’t thank you enough for your time and dedication you all give to Riley Dance Marathon.  Your gifts to this program are endless and touch so many Riley children and families.  We hope sharing our story can help share the impact of how important this event is and how much it means to all of us in the Riley family!    

Thank you to Purdue University Dance Marathon and for being there “For the Kids!”  

Tom, Theresa, Kayla, and Abbey Weisenbach

October 22nd 2017 – Molly Hess

Molly’s story begins with my 5 week bed rest stay in the hospital.  I began having trouble at 16 weeks gestation.  I was put in the hospital at 18 weeks and stayed there until Molly was born.  She was born at 2:52 a.m. on a Sunday morning.   Molly was born at 23 weeks 5 days gestation.  Molly was 1 pound 7.8 ounces and 12 inches long at birth.  Those equate to a can &½of soup and as long as a Barbie.  No one is ever prepared for the “rollercoaster” that comes with a preemie.  We certainly were not. 
 
At two weeks old, Molly was very very sick.  Molly had pneumonia, sepsis, and possible spinal meningitis.  She was too sick to do a spinal tap to tell if she had the latter of the three. We had not been able to hold Molly yet, so my child was sick and I could do nothing about it!  I couldn’t hold, snuggle or just try to make her feel better.  That is what a mom is supposed to do… She was on 100% oxygen and her oxygen saturations were at 20%.  She was gray in color.  She was lifeless.   As parents, we can never tell you what it was like to hear the doctor tell us that Molly was very sick and the next 24 hours were the most critical.  We prayed and prayed that Molly would still be with us in the morning.  She was and we are sooo blessed. 
 
She stayed in the NICU for 5 months.  We moved from bed spot to bed spot and to different modules.  Molly also had multiple surgeries.  Molly had one surgery at 6 weeks old to close the PDA between her heart & her lungs. Another surgery was at 4 months to fix the retinas of her eyes due to her prematurity.  Molly was fortunate to not need glasses until recently! Of course they are pink and she loves them! =) 
At the end of 5 months, it was discovered that Molly didn’t have an airway to support her body. Her airway was the size of a coffee stirrer!  The doctors suggested that we have a tracheostomy put in so Molly could breathe.  We realized that she may also not be able to eat in the traditional manner….by mouth.  They suggested we put in a gastrointestinal tube so she could get her nutrition other than by mouth.  Molly stayed at Riley another 3 months so that we could learn how to care for her properly.  She came home after 8 months in the hospital, on a home ventilator and with lots of equipment to help her sustain life. 
 
Molly is one of the most amazing people I know.  She has been through more than any of us should ever go through.  At age 3 we worked with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to start the process of reconstructing Molly’s airway.  A very complicated procedure invented by a doctor at that facility.  Over a two year period, a team of doctors reconstructed her airway and were able to remove the trach.  Three summers ago her doctors in Cincinnati reconstructed her airway one last time to close the hole where her trach had been.(the stoma).  By closing her stoma, they gave her the opportunity to be like every other kid her age….she was able to swim and play in a sand box for the first time last summer. 
 
Molly is a very busy girl and active like any other nine year old. She loves pink, singing songs, adventuring and bugs!!! She is in a regular second grade class and we are sooo proud of her.  She has overcome all the odds that were put against her.  We occasionally have things that come up that we need to address, but for the most part Molly is like all the other kids.  We hope that you see the world from her eyes as you go through the journey of life.  Carefree and willing to learn about others along the way! 

October 15th 2017 – Ryan Lopez

Ryan was diagnosed with (ALL) Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia  
when he was 5 on April 7, 2008. This is his story. 

Ryan was a typical 5 year old. He was in kindergarten and had his first T-ball practice on Wed April 2nd, 2008. He just didn’t seem as excited as we had expected. He didn’t keep up with the other kids. It was cold and we thought he was maybe coming down with something. Sure enough that Friday he came home from school with a fever and seemed to us to have the stomach flu. Ryan spent the weekend throwing up and feeling normal flu like symptoms; fever, body aches and weakness.  Monday the 7th I stayed home from work to take him to the clinic because he was looking a little dehydrated and complaining that the backs of his knees were hurting to the point he didn’t want to walk. We got to the clinic and they took one look at him and said to take him to the emergency room because he probably needed IV fluids. Nothing I haven’t been thru before so off we went to the ER.  

As they were asking me questions I had remembered a few weeks back he had complained of a headache so they sent us off for a CAT scan just to check it out. While there I had been asked by two nurses if I wanted to call someone to be here with me, which I didn’t think anything of at the time but looking back they must have already known I was in for a huge spiral downward! By the time we had gotten back from the scan there were 2 doctors and a nurse holding a box of tissue waiting for us and I knew something was up. At that point I just wanted to run the other way. 

They sat me down and again asked if there was anyone they could call and that there was an ambulance on the way to take us to Riley because the preliminary tests shows Ryan possibly had Leukemia! That was something no parent could have ever prepared themselves for, to hear those word “Your Child Has Cancer.” His status from that point continued to spiral downward.  He tested positive for a strep infection so they started IV antibiotics, and his Hemoglobin was extremely low, so they also started a blood transfusion. While in the ambulance on the way to Riley, he got a nose bleed that wouldn’t stop because he had little to no platelets and a head to toe rash that after days in isolation they figured it out to be septic emboli, which meant the infection was so bad it was seeping out through his pores causing little blisters all over his body, he was one very sick little boy.   

Treatment for this type of leukemia for a boy at the time he was diagnosed was a long 3 ½ years. It involves various types of chemo administered through an IV in his “Port”, placed into his spine by a spinal tap, injections in his legs, as well many different kinds of pills he had to take nightly, weekly and monthly sometimes up to 18 pills at once.  He had multiple procedures like spinal taps every 3 months, bone marrow aspirations to check for remission, and surgery to have a port a cath put in place. The “port” is a small catheter inserted into his artery and it is how they would access a vein not only to administer his IV chemo but also to draw his blood to check on how he was responding to his chemo. There were different stages of the treatment process some stronger and harder than others, some requiring an inpatient stay, and some requiring him to be isolated at home so he wasn’t exposed to any germs.

Due to all his complications, Ryan spent over 2 months in the hospital where most kids would have had outpatient treatment after 4 to 5 days. There were things Ryan had gone through that even stumped the doctors. He lost layers of skin off the palms of his hands & feet and had rashes from head to toe.  The infections took months and many different kinds of antibiotics to beat. He had allergic reactions to some of the medication so it was hard to get his infection under control.  Strep had settled in Ryan’s knee and would flare up over and over again finally after 3 surgeries and multiple needle drains of his knee he finally got rid of the infection but ended up not able to walk for over a year.  The chemo had caused mouth sores and upset stomach so bad Ryan had lost over 15 pounds in just a few weeks and ended up on IV nutrition for 16 hours a day for 3 months. His liver couldn’t handle the amount of chemo and started to fail during this time as well so it was a delicate balance between giving him as much chemo as the doctors felt he needed, but not too much to damage other organs. We felt like we were back at stage one teaching him how to eat & walk all over again.  

 It is hard to believe he is now off treatment and healthy.  We are still seeing the long term effect of what chemo does to a child’s little body, like emotional issues, learning disabilities, and lack of organizational skills.  We are currently work with neuropsychologists that will follow Ryan for years to come helping us figure out what the life time effects chemo has had on him. Even with all he has been through Ryan kept a smile on his face (most of the time) and loves to talk about how great Riley has been to us.  Ryan was nominated as a Riley Champion in 2012 and raises awareness for LLS pennies for patient program, he even grew his hair out for Locks for Love to make a wig for others who have lost their hair. 

October 7th 2017 – Evan Meade

Evan Meade was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) on January 27, 2010 just two weeks after his 16th birthday. With what he thought was the flu, Evan went to the doctor to determine why he got so sick in just a couple of days. Blood tests revealed that he needed to go to Riley Hospital immediately and be tested for leukemia.

Two days after Evan was diagnosed, his health spiraled downward quickly. Evan was moved into the Intensive Care Unit at Riley Hospital for Children fighting for his life while all organs began shutting down. His body enlarged from 220 pounds to 280 pounds and then eventually down to 140 pounds. He was placed on a ventilator, kidney dialysis, his lungs collapsed and filled with fluid, his liver was not functioning, his brain swelled and his body filled with infection eventually removing his spleen. All of this while his body was still trying to fight out the 97% Leukemia cells that had filled his body.

After the first round of chemotherapy it was determined Evan was in remission and the chemotherapy was working. Evan endured five rounds of chemotherapy staying in the hospital for up to 35 days each round of chemotherapy in all over 180 days in the hospital over a nine-month period. Evan still continues to have blood work and checkups every six months at Riley Hospital making sure the leukemia is still in remission.

In 2011, Evan started the Franklin Community High School Dance Marathon and continues to speak on behalf of Riley at various events. Evan was also honored to be a 2012 Riley Champion.

October 1st 2017 – Diana Overman

Diana was a 28 weeks, 3 pound 2 ounce preemie and has had 57 surgeries in all at riley and Lutheran combined. She has had eye straightening surgery, tendons tightened and lengthened, and numerous neurosurgeries.  21 surgeries in all at Riley. Her only seizure was at Riley. She spent 7.5 weeks straight at Riley 5 years ago, after having spent most of October in Lutheran Hospital. She even spent Christmas at Riley, and Santa was still able to find her.  Diana has had 5 surgeries just this year and will be having her 6th during PUDM 2017. 

Diana was named a 2014 Riley champion the weekend of PUDM. She used her title to show other girls that having a disability and being in a wheelchair will not slow her down. She had thyroid cancer and had battle it for 4 years. She also has Cerebral Palsy and left sided weakness. We do not know what the future holds, but for now we celebrate today and our family being together. She is in the hospital right now so if you could send your thoughts and prayers their way that would be greatly appreciated!

September 24th 2017 – Jeremy Dawes

Jeremy has breathing issues due to asthma.   He has been hospitalized on several occasions due to his oxygen levels dropping dangerously low.  He is also seen by the Sleep Clinic at Riley for Sleep apnea.   He has also had a few surgeries like getting his tonsils removed, and placing tubes in his ears. Thanks so those at Riley that have taken care of Jeremy over the years he likes race cars, motorcycles, legos, basketball, baseball and football.

September 10th 2017 – Jacob Slawson

Jacob was born three weeks premature on July 9th, 1999. Within a week he had lost weight and was hospitalized with Jaundice. In addition, he also had lactose intolerance, causing him to have problems digesting milk. He was able to overcome these complications at birth but his home life was characterized by uncertainty. Jacob has had a very hard family life because his biological parents were not equipped to take care of a newborn with health problems. Due to the instability at home and severity of Jacob’s medical condition during infancy, his grandmother, Brenda, took guardianship of Jacob when he was three weeks old.

Throughout the first few years of Jacob’s childhood, we began to notice signs of autism. He was formally diagnosed at the age of seven and was taken to Riley with Mild Autistic Spectrum Syndrome. Jacob has received great treatment from Riley and has learned to adapt to his specific case of autism. He loves animals, swimming, exercising, bowling, roller-skating, biking, and playing the wii. While Jacob does not like to be touched, he is a very happy child with a lot of love to give and sometimes accepts hugs as “punishment” for being good. Jacob and his family are very grateful for the help Riley has given them and hope to contribute in any way to Dance Marathon’s efforts.