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Dancing for cash; high school students raise money for sick kids

PLYMOUTH, Ind. – Dozens of students filled the cafeteria of Plymouth High School Saturday afternoon to raise money to bring a smile to the faces of sick children.

The Riley Hospital Dance Marathon at Plymouth High School lasted six hours.

During that time, students could not sit down. Instead they danced, ate, played games, and hung out.

Some of them even shared their own personal stories of being a patient at Riley Hospital.

One of those brave souls was Hannah Jacobs. Jacobs has spina bifida that has left her paralyzed from the waist down.

The 16-year-old has had more surgeries than she can remember, her first just days after being born.

Jacobs has spent a lot of time at Riley Hospital, and one of her favorite services they provide is called the Magical Castle Cart.

This cart, decorated like a castle, rolls into patients rooms filled with games and toys all designed to bring a smile to the children’s faces.

For so many children, like Jacobs, the Magic Castle Cart takes away the fear and pain they are feeling.

That’s why after seeing her sister Amy participate in a Dance Marathon at Ball University, Jacobs decided she wanted to have one at her high school and dedicate the proceeds to the Magic Castle Cart service.

Jacobs teamed up with a fellow Plymouth High School student who is also a patient at Riley Hospital.

Friday night, Cassandra Gaines was crowned Homecoming Queen at Plymouth High School. But not everyone knew she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, now referred to as juvenile idiopathic arthritis, at 10-years-old.

As a teenager, Gaines would wake up in the kind of pain one would only expect late in life.

She credits Riley Hospital with her remission and ability to move like a normal teen today, instead of being restricted to a wheelchair.

The two girls gathered more than 100 of their friends and classmates together for the dance marathon, and they set a goal of raising $10,000.

Saturday, as the hundred or so students finished their final dance in the middle of the gymnasium at halftime of the boys varsity basketball game, they found out they had surpassed that goal buy more than $400 dollars.

School guidance director, Aimee Portteus was impressed by the teamwork that was needed to pull off the marathon, and by what the kids learned. “It’s really cool to see the looks on their faces as they see their classmates in a different way. It’s not just somebody sitting next to you in Algebra. It’s somebody that has a real life story that maybe you weren’t aware of before,” said Portteus.

As for Jacobs, she had a grin from ear to ear all day long. “It was overwhelming, but it was awesome,” said Jacobs.

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