Horizon League Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) visits Riley Children's Hospital
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Horizon League Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) visits Riley Children's Hospital
Ryan Ruppel and Amy Young represented Valpo at the SAAC meetings. (Horizon League)

Fourteen members of the Horizon League's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee visited Riley Children's Hospital on Friday, July 31. The community outreach opportunity included guest speakers, a video session and tour of the hospital.

"I'm sure Riley Children's Hospital was an eye-opening experience for everyone who went," said Stephanie Jarvis, an associate commissioner at the Horizon League. "Community outreach is one of the Horizon League's four platforms, and this was a great opportunity for us here in Indianapolis.

"We really appreciate the Riley staff spending some time with our group. Hopefully, we can take another group to their world-class facility in the future."

Riley receives part of its funding from the Children's Miracle Network, a non-profit organization that supports more than 170 children's hospitals in the United States.

The Horizon League will be working with the Children's Miracle Network in 2009-10 after being introduced by one of its major corporate partners, Speedway SuperAmerica LLC.

Since 1924, Riley Hospital for Children has provided compassionate care, support and comfort to children and their families. The dedicated pediatric physicians, clinical staff and generous donors have made Riley a place of hope and healing for generations of Hoosiers.

"The visit was really cool," said Ryan Ruppel, a junior on the Valparaiso University men's track and field team. "I expected it to be dark and sad, but everything was upbeat. I enjoyed walking around the hospital. All of the kids I ran into were pretty positive. Most of them seemed to be happy and were smiling."

As Indiana's only comprehensive pediatric hospital, Riley has more than 245,000 inpatient and outpatient pediatric visits annually from across the state, nation and world. The nationally-recognized operation has over 1,900 full-time employees, a medical staff of approximately 350 and nearly 600 volunteers.

"This hospital is beautiful and its history is amazing," said Emily Budde, a senior on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's track and field squad. "It seems like the staff at Riley does a great job making the families feel like they're at home. I've never seen anything like it before."

Riley's relationship with Clarian Health and its strong affiliation with the Indiana University School of Medicine makes it the only comprehensive pediatric clinical resource for Indiana's children and a premiere source for health-related information for their parents.

Corporate Giving Officer Sherry Sutton and Dance Marathon Coordinator Robyn Wood led the group, which also included three members of the Horizon League staff.

All 14 student-athletes walked away with a positive feeling. The visit could also motivate each individual to do more in their respective communities.

"I am definitely going to tell my teammates, coaches and athletic administrators about this experience," Ruppel added. "It was really cool and I hope we're able to do something like it back in Valparaiso.

"I'd like to do something at one of the children's hospitals in Wisconsin," Budde added. "I didn't get to see too many kids on this first visit, but I'm super excited about the next opportunity."