For Trent Hohenstreiter, the Riley Dance Marathon is personal.

On Jan. 6, 2006, his younger brother, Trey, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He went through numerous spinal taps, bone marrow aspirations, blood transfusions, platelet transfusions and chemotherapy shots.

In April 2009, Trey finished treatment at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis. His father, Dwayne, lifted him up to ring a bell, signifying the end of treatment.

The cure date is five years from the remission date, and Trey was considered cured Feb. 6, 2011, said his mother, Kathy.

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Trey is now a freshman at Seymour High School and stays active playing baseball and tennis.

Three years ago, the first Riley Dance Marathon was conducted at Seymour High School to raise money for the Riley Children’s Foundation. That was during Trent’s freshman year, and he has been involved ever since.

This year’s event is from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday in Seymour High School’s Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.

“One of my main goals when I got to high school was I wanted to start one of these, and when I got to high school and heard my freshman year was going to be the first year we have it, that was very exciting,” said Trent, a junior at Seymour High School.

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

Riley is Indiana’s only nationally ranked children’s hospital and only pediatric research hospital. Nearly 6,500 Riley kids are participating in clinical research trials exploring new medicines and treatments.

Seymour’s event will feature a nine-section dance that everyone learns and does together. People who have been helped by Riley also will speak. Activities include board games, dodgeball, volleyball, a bouncy house, Zorball and sumo suits. Pizza also will be served.

“Everyone has fun,” Trent said. “You’re learning this dance, and no one is great at the dance, so you’re all laughing with each other. It’s all just a fun time watching everyone get along. You just have so many different crowds of people there, so you’re all mingling with people you don’t normally talk with, and it’s just fun to see how people converse and get along.”

The event is for Seymour High School students, parents and staff. Admission is $15.

“There’s no sitting down at the event. You’re not allowed to sit down,” Trent said. “People may get tired during the event, but we want to show that you can’t give up and what would happen if you give up. It’s showing that you’ve got to push through if you’re feeling tired.”

Purdue University students partnered with Seymour High School the past two years, but Franklin College is this year’s partner. Colleges and high schools conduct fundraisers throughout the year, and the money is given to the Riley Children’s Foundation.

The first year of Seymour’s fundraiser netted $4,209.84, and last year brought in $5,913.03. This year’s goal is $7,500.

Trent is one of 11 Seymour students involved in the school’s Riley Dance Marathon committee, which leads fundraisers and organizes the annual event. Assistant Principal Talmadge Reasoner is the sponsor.

“It’s mainly student government-based, but you don’t have to be in student government to be on the committee,” Trent said. “If anybody wants to be on the committee and help, we’re going to accept them because we can use as much help as we can get.”

This past year’s fundraisers included a potato bar at a basketball game and a bake sale at Walmart, and the high school and elementary schools recently started a penny war. The committee also had local individuals and businesses make donations.

Those unable to attend Saturday’s event can contact Reasoner at the school to make a donation. Money is accepted year-round.

Trent said he has liked seeing the event grow.

“It makes you feel good about yourself as well as makes you feel good about your community because you see how community-based it is and how much people back you up,” he said.

“It’s all going to a great cause, and since I’ve been closely affected by it, I know I want to give back and help as much as I can just because I don’t want other people to go through the pain that my family has been through or many families in this town that have been affected by it,” he said.

Trent said it was tough watching his brother battle leukemia. Early on, Trey visited Riley once a week. As time passed, the visits went from biweekly to monthly.

“You’d go up there, and sometimes, he’d just be in pain. It’s hard to see that, and you’re like, ‘How is this ever going to change?'” Trent said. “Then now, you look at him, and it’s hard to even remember that. It’s like, ‘Wow! He doesn’t even look like he went through that.'”

Trent said Riley does amazing work.

“It’s painful to watch at times, but just to know that they are going to get you through it as best as they can and they are trying their hardest, it shows how much they care, and I just want to help that,” he said.

When Trey was going through treatments, he and his family and friends formed Trey’s Team to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life. Trey participated in the event by riding his power Jeep, walking or running.

“I just thought nothing was ever going to be the same. I just thought he was going to keep feeling terrible,” Trent said of his brother. “Eventually, he just progressively got better, and it was like, ‘Yeah, he’s getting this.’ Once he got past it, he has never looked back.”

Trent said he is happy to give back through the Riley Dance Marathon.

“Everyone on this committee, I know we all just want to help the best we can and comfort anyone that needs help,” he said. “Our main goal is just to help.”

At a glance

Seymour High School’s third annual Riley Dance Marathon is from 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday in the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.

The event is for Seymour High School students, parents and staff. Admission is $15.

Donations will be accepted at the event. Money also can be dropped off during school hours throughout the year. For information, call Talmadge Reasoner at 812-522-4384.

For information about Dance Marathons and how to become involved, email dancemarathon@rileykids.org.

Because of donations, Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis is able to offer:

  • One of the nation’s leading pediatric research programs, with physician-scientists investigating better ways to treat childhood cancer, diabetes, heart defects, asthma and other illnesses.
  • Spacious, family-friendly private rooms and state-of-the-art facilities in the new inpatient wing, the Simon Family Tower.
  • Support from Child Life Specialists, who bring comfort and joy to hospitalized children.
  • Educational opportunities for physicians and medical students to keep them informed of the newest developments in their fields.
  • Specialized equipment to meet the medical needs of patients.
  • Life-changing outdoor adventures to more than 215 children with physical disabilities who stay at Camp Riley each summer.
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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.