In 1991, Jill Stewart started Indiana University Dance Marathon to commemorate the life of her friend, Ryan White, and his battle with HIV. Stewart met White during his time in Cicero, Ind., and thought of no better way to honor him and carry on his name than to create a fundraiser that raises money for children fighting infectious diseases. Ryan White passed away from an AIDS related illness on April 8th, 1990 and just over one and a half years later, in October 1991, Stewart kicked off what would become the second-largest student organized philanthropy in the nation—IUDM.

In its first year, IUDM raised $10,900 and doubled the following year. In 1995, the organization broke the $100,000 mark, raising just over $140,000—a significant increase from the $96,000 raised in the previous year. In 2007, the students and donors of the marathon hit $1 million—a benchmark for the philanthropy. The marathon made history again in 2012, when $2.12 million was raised. Since its inception, IUDM has thrived, raising more than $17 million for the Ryan White Infectious Disease Center at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Ind.

Riley Hospital is a Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) affiliate. CMN has raised more than $2.2 billion for 170 children’s hospitals in North America. Riley is a nationally ranked hospital and has been recognized year after year for its exceptional care. For its 2013-2014 list of “Best Children’s Hospitals,” U.S. News & World Report placed Riley Hospital for Children as a top hospital in the country for 10 different departments. This included but is not limited to: pulmonology as 15th, diabetes & endocrinology as ninth and urology as fifth.

Live for today, dance for tomorrow is IUDM’s 2013 motto. Each year more than 3,000 students stand on their feet for the duration of the 36-hour marathon and dance for those who cannot. Almost 1,000 committee members work within 17 committees throughout the year leading up to the marathon to raise money, awareness and to create a sense of community. Selfless work, dedication and proactivity are just a few qualities of students, parents, faculty and donors that drive the marathon each fall. In November 2014, IUDM will be carried out for the 24th time at Indiana University and history will surely be made again.

If you would like to learn more information about IUDM, please visit www.iudm.org!

Written by Kassandra Chronis