Freshman Skylar Fleischman wants to give back to the smiling faces she sees during her visits to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.

She also wants to give back to the hospital that saved her older brother’s life three times as an infant.

Her brother was born prematurely and with fluid surrounding his heart. He was sent to Riley at three days old and stayed for about a month and a half, said Lynlea Fleischman, the children’s mother.

“They had to help him breathe. He died three times, his heart stopped beating and they brought him back,” Skylar said.

The day before his open heart surgery, doctors decided to do one last CT scan. And the fluid was gone.

That baby is now a senior at Brown County High School, and he hasn’t had any heart problems since.

“They’ve done some miracles,” Lynlea said.

Skylar and one of her two sisters were also patients at the hospital as children.

“I really do appreciate Riley Hospital, because my brother is alive because of them,” Skylar said.

Her way to give back is a Riley Dance Marathon — the first at Brown County High School. It’s been set for 3 to 10 p.m. Friday, March 18 in the Larry C. Banks Memorial Gymnasium.

Skylar got the idea from her older sister, who is a student at Indiana University and participates in Riley Dance Marathons there.

Her previous school in Fishers hosted a Riley Dance Marathon.

“She was really excited to get it here in a small school and try to get it going,” Lynlea said.

Dance marathons are Riley’s fastest growing fundraising program in Indiana, with more than 60 high schools and colleges hosting them, according to the Riley Dance Marathon website.

They’ve raised millions each year for the hospital. The first was at Indiana University in 1991 to honor AIDS patient Ryan White, who had planned to attend IU, but died before he was able to.

BCHS students began registering the week of Feb. 22. The $20 fee includes food, a T-shirt and lots of activities — a craft station, a dodgeball tournament (for an extra dollar) and many rounds of “Dance, Dance Revolution” on a gaming console.

A booth will explain the reason behind the marathon and why the students are there.

Former Riley patients will speak — something Fleischman, age 15, coordinated on her own.

She organized a committee of students to help her come up with ideas for activities and run the event.

“If they see it how I see it, it’s for a good cause, and you’re helping people. If you just see the smiles on the kids’ faces, it just makes you feel so better about what you’re doing,” she said.

Help the cause

Though the first Brown County High School Dance Marathon for Riley on March 18 is only for student participants, there are ways local residents can help.

For more information on how to donate money, become a business sponsor or provide food, call the high school at 812-988-6606.