When senior Jaime Robbins started Franklin College Dance Marathon her freshman year, she never dreamed the organization would reach where it is now.
“I’ve been trying to find the words to describe how I feel about this past weekend, and I still don’t know what to say,” she said in an Instagram caption a few days after the event. “FCDM helped shape me into who I am today, and I will forever be grateful to those students who stood by my side throughout it all and showed this campus how to love Riley.”
Last Saturday, marathon participants raised $33,371.76 for Riley Hospital for Children under Robbins’ leadership.
That’s $10,000 more than their goal.
Riley Dance Marathons happen on campuses statewide each year. The marathons are multi-hour, philanthropic events that blend dancing, games, crafts, food and fun into one experience.
Students are on their feet for the entire marathon, as they stand for the kids at Riley.
Robbins, who was the president of the dance marathon at her high school, wanted to kick start the event at Franklin College because she is a Riley kid who spent a lot of time at the hospital. She said she’s passionate about Riley because the doctors saved her life, and they save others’ lives every day.
“I actually received open-heart surgery at Riley the summer before attending college,” she said. “And when I got on campus, I made it my personal goal to bring the incredible, fun and philanthropic organization to campus.”
Over her four years of leading FCDM, Robbins said she has not only seen it grow in participation and in fundraising, but has also seen the participants grow closer.
“FCDM is a group of people who typically would have no reason to associate with one another, but by the end of the year our eclectic group of students becomes one big, happy family,” she said. “We grow as individuals and as a group, and we all become leaders.”
Senior Sarah Ramon became involved with the marathon through her friendship with Robbins. She said she loves that the college students who participate forget all their responsibilities for six hours to act like kids again.
“We play games, dance, rave and just goof around,” Ramon said. “I love being able to interact with the Riley kids who participate in the event.”
Robbins said her favorite memory from her FCDM career was right after they flipped the cards to see the total money raised her freshman year.
“It was the proudest moment of my life,” she said.
They had raised $5,567 — nearly six times less than their 2017 total.
Robbins also said, although starting the organization on campus was difficult and seemed impossible at times, it was great to see how far they could come by the end of it.
“In that moment, I realized that we had overcome all of our obstacles,” she said. “I knew for sure that FCDM would strive for years to come.”
After leading FCDM the past four years, Robbins said the organization will soon begin interviewing for a new president.
“We have many wonderful candidates, and I know FCDM will continue to succeed in the future,” she said.
Since Robbins started the organization in 2013, the marathon has raised nearly $73,000 for the kids.
“It is with a heavy-heart that I hang up my dancing shoes, but looking back, I couldn’t be happier with the way things turned out,” Robbins said in the caption. “FTK, always.”