Relay for Riley Collections Underway

by Jim Amidon

September 13, 2004

Virtually all of us know a child who has benefited from the excellence of the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children. The Indianapolis children’s hospital has saved the lives of countless thousands of Hoosiers, and helped terminally ill children and their families come to grips with their illnesses and diseases.

There is, perhaps, no greater tragedy than a young life cut short; no greater sadness than a child in pain. In turn, there may be no organization more deserving of charitable gifts, of philanthropy, than Riley Children’s Hospital.

That’s why I’m so excited that the Wabash men of the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity have chosen to again conduct a “Relay for Riley’ this fall. Some of you will no doubt recall the group’s inaugural efforts last fall.

A few men, led by John Meyer, whose idea it was to run the relay, cobbled together some donations and took turns running the actual distance from the Wabash College mall to the Indianapolis hospital. Once there, they made a donation of $2,800 and a teddy bear to symbolize their efforts. It was a miserably hot day last year, yet the young men persevered. And we’re not talking about a group of distance runners here. We’re talking about 12 average Wabash students who happen to care more for others than themselves. They kept running, an average of about four miles per man, to symbolize the courage and conviction a child battling leukemia must possess. It is indeed a most worthwhile event.

This year, Meyer says the goal is to raise $10,000 — still a relatively small amount at a place that works miracles. But Riley has a reputation of serving all children, regardless of insurance or financial background. In that way, every penny counts.

“With the help of the entire community, we can reach our goal and present the children and families of Riley Hospital with a big check,” says Meyer.

So, how can you help? Saturday, September 18 is Community Day at Little Giant Stadium. Again this year, I hope you’ll be our guest for a picnic-style lunch on the College mall prior to the Little Giants’ home opener against Washington University. The picnic is free and there is no charge for admission to the football game.

So think about what you might pay for lunch and a game ticket, and donate that much money to Relay for Riley. Alpha Phi Omega members will be at the entrance to the stadium and will walk around during the picnic to collect donations. Any gift is appreciated.

Meyer reminds me that checks can be made payable to “Relay for Riley” and that all donations are tax deductible. He also quips that to reach his goal, the group must raise 13 cents per step and $222.22 per mile. You might spend $10 for a hot dog and ticket to the football game; that’s a tremendous donation for the Relay for Riley.

If you’d like more information about the event or would like to send a donation in advance of Community Day, contact Meyer at the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He can be reached by phone at 361-7628 or by email at

Just for kicks, I asked Meyer what his motivation was for founding the event last fall. I figured he was once a sick child who enjoyed the tremendous services of Riley Hospital. Nope. But he’s volunteered there, and the looks on the kids’ faces left an indelible mark on him. He said to me that it’s bad enough that these kids have to spend the best years of their lives in the hospital, so the very least he can do is donate a few bucks to make it a better experience for the children and their families.

What a remarkable gesture. And the least we can do is help out John and his friends in APO on their 45-mile run to Indianapolis.


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