Skip to content

One School. One Weekend. One Miracle After Another.

Lizzy Forzley is a Margaritaville college ambassador at Indiana University. Learn more about Margaritaville University here.

Imagine Jimmy Buffett’s picture when writing “Where the children play on the shore each day, and all is safe within.” Now imagine the shore is a 10-court tennis center filled with 5,000 enthusiastic, cheering and dancing college students, refusing to sit and sleep for 36 hours straight to rally behind Riley Hospital for Children patients proudly called “Riley Kids.”

Yup, that’s my Margaritaville too.

In 1991, Indiana University student, Jill Stewart, wanted to honor her good friend Ryan White, who planned on attending IU, but passed away from AIDS the summer before freshman year. Ryan promoted acceptance, awareness, support and love for all affected by illness. She, alongside other campus leaders, formed Indiana University Dance Marathon (IUDM) to carry on his mission.

Now every fall, thousands of students dance for 36 hours straight to honor the brave Riley kids that inspire us each day to work to make a difference in the world.

There are 18 committees, each with a special function. Members of morale are crazy in tie-dye and pump up all students throughout the 36 hours, the Riley Development committee hosts the kids zone and organizes Riley Buddies for IUDM and Riley Kids, Logistics sets the entire Tennis Center (our marathon location) for a successful event, Merchandise & Apparel gets us awesome IUDM and Riley Gear, and I’ll have to give my recommendations to Entertainment for throwing some Jimmy in this year’s marathon soundtrack!

After dancing with my sorority in 2015, I joined the Hospital Relations (HR/HeRoes) committee. HeRoes proudly educates the IU community on hospital operations and IUDM’s philanthropic financial contributions. HR also builds relations with the hospital through hosting Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) baby showers, organizing Ronald McDonald House Meals, and facilitating Bravest Bear Skydives (watch me jumping out of a plane For The Kids (FTK) here!)

While the entire marathon could be deemed the most magical and love-filled 36 hours ever, I’ll break down what IUDM 2017 will entail:

Friday, November 10th at 8 p.m.
First Opening Ceremony – This is the welcome to all the dancers, doctors, and Riley kids! We also hear our Riley stories throughout the entire 36 hours. Riley Stories are where Riley Kids get to share their struggles and triumphs, highs and lows, and where they are today with all their biggest fans.

Saturday, November 11th at 8 a.m.
Middle Opening Ceremony – Our dancers have opportunities to dance 12, 24, or 36 hours. Given the large number of dancers, we need three 12 hour shifts to abide by fire codes.

Riley Kid Talent Show – You don’t know talent until you watch Mason dance so much better than you ever will! He even got to show Twitch from Ellen his moves.

8 p.m.
Final Opening Ceremony – Our last shift of 12 hour dancers come in, some 24-hour dancers get to sit, and 36-hour dancers are still jiving!

All. Night. Long.
Rave – Nothing like pre-celebrating the thought that you are changing lives with a rave alongside thousands of your best friends!

Sunday, November 12th at 8 a.m.
IUDM 2017 will honor Ryan White and Ashley Louise Crouse. Ashley was an IUDM Executive Council Member in 2005. She was killed by a drunk driver, and we strive to live out her legacy in all we do. With a final dedication to both Ryan and Ashley, and all who watch over us, IUDM crowds to get a glimpse of the total reveal. Last year, we raised $4.1 million For The Kids (FTK)!

Beyond my IUDM skydive endeavors, I’ve chopped 14 inches off my hair and ran the Chicago Marathon in honor of Riley! My fundraising goal this year is $6,000, so if you would like to donate or sponsor me through a tax-deductible corporate sponsorship, please click here or email me here.

IUDM promotes awareness and provides funds to Riley for research and clinical programming. However, beyond our primary operations, IUDM stands for compassion, support, and acceptance in the word. It promotes hope, inspiration, encouragement, acceptance, peace, understanding, and love. It gives kids the chance to play Little League, to hug their siblings, to go on field trips, and to Just. Be. Kids. IUDM is the chance of a lifetime to give a lifetime of chance.

And that, that state of mind, is my Margaritaville.

Check back after the Indiana University Dance Marathon November 10 – 12 for Lizzy’s full event recap!