PictureBrooks completing the IronMan 2014.

It was the fall of 2012, and I was bored and lonely. I requested the 11pm-2am shadowing shift at the ER, so I would have something to do on Friday nights, if that tells you anything. My interest in medicine was just blossoming, so I studied hard and didn’t do much else. Adding to my already copious amounts of alone time, I had a passion for endurance sports. I had completed my first Ironman Triathlon the previous summer and did all of my hundreds of hours of training on my own. Though these are perfectly noble endeavors for a 19 year old, I was left thoroughly unsatisfied. I felt nothing I did made any difference to anyone else. I felt like I had potential to make a difference to other people that I wasn’t using. I find young folk are generally instilled with the notion that this one must “pay dues” before being able to help people in any meaningful way. She didn’t know it at the time, but one of my best friends, and my current director Janaki Patel, showed me this wasn’t the case.

Janaki is a passionate person, but her fire for IUDM is more prominent than pumpkin spice in October. She gushed to anyone that would listen about IUDM. She would preach about how students, the ones who were supposed to be keeping their heads down and moving up the ranks, raised millions of dollars to ensure that children of Indiana received life-saving medical care. Through this organization, Janaki was able to apply her passion for generally being an amazing person to make a real tangible difference in the world. She didn’t need to wait around for a degree to tell her she could. Seeing this pushed me to stop keeping my head down, but instead look the world in the eye.

Inspired by Janaki, I interviewed for Riley Development and was fortunately accepted. I wanted to help these kids.  They had endured years of cancer treatments, life threatening surgeries, and struggles that most of us are lucky enough to be free of. I did not have an M.D., or even a B.S., but I could swim and I could bike and I could run. So that’s what I did. I completed by second Ironman triathlon in 2013, but this time it had a purpose (FTK!). I raised approximately $6000 this way. In the summer of 2014, I completed my second Ironman triathlon FTK. In October of 2014 I completed the Chicago Marathon FTK. I’m not exaggerating when I say those 300+ miles were more rewarding than any victory or personal record I have ever previously accomplished. I wasn’t racing alone anymore because I wasn’t moving for me. I was moving for my DM family, the Riley families, and, most of all, for the kids.

Before joining the DM family, I felt like maybe three people would notice if I transferred from Indiana University to another school. Now, I struggle with the fact that I’m leaving town in May and can’t take all of my friends with me. Every day I will, at the very least, receive a text from a Riley D’er that makes me smile like I found $20 in my pocket. Joining this organization, I never expected to find such love. I wanted college laughs and memories and stories and all that, and I got them with DM. But I also got something more enduring:  Friends that I will keep for the rest of my life.

Written by Brooks Platt, Riley Develpopment