Seymour seniors paint parking spots for Riley Dance Marathon fundraiser


More than 100 Seymour High School seniors gathered in the school parking lot on Labor Day to paint with a purpose.

While it was fun to showcase their personalities and interests in painting their own parking spot, they were helping Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis in the process.

For the seventh year, seniors and families filled the parking lot to bring their concepts to life. It was the second year in a row for the fundraiser to draw 100-plus seniors.

To participate, students filled out a form and had a parent sign it and submitted a plan of their painting. Once that was approved, they paid $40 to participate and also bought their paint and supplies needed.

The money collected will go toward the SHS Riley Dance Marathon committee’s fundraising efforts, which will culminate Nov. 18 with an event in the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.

Since the annual fundraiser started at SHS in 2014, $139,554.74 has been raised to support Riley Hospital, said Kelly Reasoner, a math teacher at SHS who serves as sponsor of the Riley Dance Marathon committee.

“This is one of the best days ever,” Reasoner said of the parking spot painting. “I love that families come out and paint together.”

Seniors Tori Fee and Elise Hartung, co-presidents of the SHS committee this year, were happy with the turnout.

“I thought there wasn’t enough talk about it, but suddenly, everyone is here,” Hartung said.

“All of my friends, we’ve been talking about wanting to do this all year, so we’ve all just been waiting for it,” Fee said.

They had seen previous senior classes get to paint their parking spots, so they were ready for their opportunity.

“It shows everybody’s creativity really well. I like that. And it gives money to Dance Marathon. It’s one of our biggest fundraisers,” Fee said.

“Being able to express myself and show what I can do, I like that it’s my parking spot and nobody else can take it,” Hartung said, smiling.

For her spot, Fee painted the Mountain Dew Baja Blast logo.

“It’s my favorite drink of all-time. I’m a Mountain Dew fanatic,” she said, smiling. “It was between doing that or something with my favorite band, and two of my friends, they were like, ‘Well, when I think of you, I think of Mountain Dew, so I feel like you have to do that,’ and I was like, ‘That’s a good point.’”

She liked how her spot turned out.

“If I’m lucky, they will sponsor me,” Fee said, smiling. “I’m hoping. I’ll tag them in my Instagram post.”

For Hartung’s spot, she painted a bookshelf with books, the four musical instruments she plays (alto saxophone, bassoon, piano and trumpet), a tennis racket and a soccer ball (representing the sports she plays).

“I like that anybody can do anything,” she said.

Fee and Hartung liked seeing what their classmates came up with, too.

“It’s so great because we know a lot of people here, so it’s great seeing what parts of their personality they take pride in, what they want to show to the rest of the high school,” Fee said.

“I’m going to go around and try to guess who did what because I kind of know. I’ll be curious to see what everybody did,” Hartung said.

Senior Sam Spangle chose to incorporate her favorite animal, an orca, or killer whale, in her parking spot.

“I watched ‘Free Willy’ a lot when I was younger, and they just caught my eye. They are very majestic,” she said.

“She even went to Sea World when she was younger and only wanted to sit and watch the orcas swim,” her mother, Michele Spangle, said.

Sam also received help in painting from her sister, Annabell Spangle.

“It was something I was looking forward to,” Sam said of painting her own parking spot. “It’s artistic ability. It’s something they can do to just let their artistic ability free.”

Michele is glad the seniors get an opportunity to paint their own parking spot and help Riley at the same time.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I think it’s great that everybody gets to get together, and some people get to have their friends or people get to watch and see what other people are doing. You get to watch people with their abilities of what they can do. It’s great. It lets themselves go free of what they want.”

Nearby, senior Caden Harriss put two of his interests, vinyl records and succulents, in his parking spot.

“I collect vinyl records, so this is a big part of my personality. Then the plants, I have a ton of succulents in my room, so it all kind of comes together,” he said.

He added the phrase “Spinning my college fund” across the top since he said he’ll be lucky if he has any money left for college after he spends it on records.

“I just love music. I love to listen to it,” he said. “I don’t do band or choir or anything, but I just like to listen.”

When asked how many records he has, Harriss couldn’t come up with a number and just said he has crates of them and they are used as wall decor, too.

“I like that you get to be creative with it,” he said of incorporating his interests in a parking spot. “Claiming my spot, no one can park here now. Then just kind of putting my mark on senior year, this is a little piece of me for the year.”

He also was excited to see his classmates’ work.

“You get to see everyone’s personalities. You get to know the person a little bit,” Harriss said.

He had help from fellow senior Ruth Guevara in painting his spot.

“Figuring what you want to do is stressful, so I’m just happy to help,” she said. “The more we’ve been doing it, I’m glad I didn’t do one. It’s a lot of work.”

Both seniors have been part of Riley Dance Marathon and are looking forward to the upcoming event.

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

By “dancing for those who can’t” and participating in a variety of other activities for hours on end, college and high school students across the state raise millions of dollars each year for the children at Riley Hospital, according to

Known as one of the nation’s top-ranked children’s hospitals, Riley provides care across every pediatric specialty known to medicine, and physicians also deliver complex and acute care beyond its flagship location in downtown Indianapolis, according to

“It goes to a great cause,” Harriss said. “I’ve heard that they do great things up there, and the more money to them, the better. They are getting more and more money each year, so to donate to that and to have fun out here doing it, it’s just altogether great.”

Leading up to that event, the committee is planning a couple of fundraisers in the fall. One is having the Seymour elementary and middle schools join SHS in penny wars, and the other is selling cookies during lunch.

Fee also said the marketing committee started asking local businesses for donations in the summer and will continue those efforts.

“We’re hoping we can do as well as we did last year with $30,000,” she said.

Anyone interested in donating to SHS Riley Dance Marathon may email Reasoner at [email protected].

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