Seymour High School seniors paint parking spots to benefit Riley Hospital

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This could be a big year for Seymour High School’s Riley Dance Marathon.

Since the annual fundraiser started at the school in 2014, $88,487.40 has been raised to support Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

With the 2021 fundraising goal set at $15,000, there’s a good chance SHS will top the $100,000 mark.

“This is a big year for us,” said Kelly Reasoner, a math teacher at SHS who serves as sponsor of the Riley Dance Marathon committee.

“We want $15,000, but if we can hit $100,000 this year, that’s huge,” she said.

“We’re not a big, big school, so since 2014 to be able to do that, I’m proud of them. We’ve come a long way.”

By “dancing for those who can’t” for hours on end, college and high school students across Indiana raise millions of dollars each year for the children at Riley Hospital, according to rileykids.org.

The first Dance Marathon began in 1991 at Indiana University to honor AIDS patient Ryan White. Today, the program in Indiana is Riley’s fastest-growing fundraising event program with more than 60 high school and collegiate programs.

SHS conducts fundraisers throughout the year, capped off with Riley Dance Marathon. This year’s event is set for Nov. 20.

One of the fundraisers is seniors painting parking spaces, which was conducted again this year on Labor Day. Seventy-four seniors and their family and friends spread out in the student parking lot painting their spots.

To participate, students fill out a form and have a parent sign it and submit a plan of their painting. Once that’s approved, they pay $40 and buy their paint and supplies needed to bring their idea to life.

The fundraiser brought in around $3,000, which will be added to the school’s total.

“It’s awesome because you look out and you’ve got siblings that have come back from college that are here this weekend, grandparents and parents and all of the families are here,” Reasoner said. “It’s just a fun day to get together and be out here where everything goes to Riley.”

Each year, Reasoner likes seeing what the seniors paint to show off their personalities or interests.

“I teach math, so we’re in the math classroom, I don’t get to see this artistic side of these kids,” she said. “To see some of these spots of kids that I’ve had, it’s amazing what they come up with and do a really, really good job.”

Will Cottrill is president of the SHS Riley Dance Marathon committee this year.

He and three of his friends, Luke Reasoner, Casey Regruth, Andrew Levine and Donovyn Thomas, did plays on popular logos with their names for their parking spaces that are next to each other.

Cottrill’s was Goodwill, followed by “Lukey Charms” that looks like the Lucky Charms cereal box, Regruth with “Casey’s Parking Spot” featuring the Casey’s General Store logo, Levine with “Rooney Tunes” based on the “Looney Tunes” cartoon and incorporating his nickname and Thomas’ “Papa Don’s” with the Papa John’s Pizza logo.

Cottrill enjoyed spending the day with friends and family.

“It’s awesome, something that can have as big of an effect as raising money just making everything fun,” he said. “I got to see my brother do it, and I just couldn’t wait. I was really excited to have my spot for the whole year.”

On the opposite end of the parking lot, senior Sarah Hoffman received help from her sibling, Bek Hoffman, mother, Kris Hoffman, and Eddie Tovar in painting a celestial design with purple, blue and black along with white stars. At the top, Bek painted “Sarah Space.”

“I like the different colors and how they look together,” Sarah said. “It’s just part of my personality. I have a lot of galaxy stuff. The ceiling of my room is similar to the galaxy. I just like stars and stuff.”

Seeing seniors paint their parking spaces in recent years, Sarah was looking forward to the opportunity this year.

“I just wanted to be involved a little bit and do something,” she said. “My family came in to help me, so it’s fun. I like how it has come together a lot.”

Nearby, senior Lexi Turner received help from her older sister, Jocie Turner, in incorporating the television show “Friends” in her spot. The message “The one where it’s my senior year” is at the top, “2022” is on one of the New York City skyscrapers and “Lexi” is across the bottom.

“I actually brainstormed a bunch of different ideas that I really liked, and I looked up some online, but I fell in love with this one because I love the city, it just resonates with my personality and it’s simple, too, and easy to do,” she said.

“’Friends’ is a huge staple in our household. We have all 10 seasons on DVD,” Jocie added.

Lexi said the parking lot painting is a good activity for the seniors.

“I feel it really brings us together because all of our friends are here, and you can really see each personality in each parking spot,” she said. “It just brings all of us seniors together. It’s like a class thing. I feel like it’s a rite of passage.”

Plus, they are raising money for Riley.

“It’s an awesome cause, and I love that it’s going to it,” Lexi said. “It’s something for us to do, and it’s for a good cause.”

The SHS Riley Dance Marathon committee has other fundraisers planned before the big event Nov. 20.

On Tuesday during homecoming week, they will sell big chocolate chip cookies at lunch. Committee members also are meeting with Seymour school principals to organize fundraisers.

“We’re trying to work with the elementaries and do some fundraising with them,” Reasoner said. “We’re going to do penny wars at the high school when we get closer to the actual Dance Marathon date.”

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented an in-person Riley Dance Marathon from happening in 2020, but SHS still was able to raise around $4,000.

This year, Reasoner said they are a little behind on fundraising due to the pandemic, but she has high hopes for the students’ efforts.

So does Cottrill.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing everything that we’re doing because last year, it wasn’t really hands-on as much as I like it to be,” he said. “It will be cool to just see firsthand what we’re doing. We have some big things planned.”