Riley Kids Vote Goes to the Dogs

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While America spent Election Day voting for political candidates, the kids at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health stuck with the fun kind of decisions. Favorite snack, animal, color and more.

The candidate she wanted was nowhere to be found on the ballot.

Karli Fowler scrunched her nose, heaved a little sigh and reluctantly picked red.

No. Not that red. Not Donald Trump Republican red.

The actual color red.

“I picked red because it’s like pink,” 4-year-old Karli said after casting her vote Tuesday in the kids’ election at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

As their adult voting counterparts stood in long, winding lines waiting to select Trump or Hillary Clinton in the Presidential Election, Riley patients, siblings and families took part in their own form of civic duty.

What’s the best color -- red, blue or yellow? Animal -- cat, dog or fish? Snack -- potato chips, fruit or popcorn? Sport -- baseball, football or basketball? And movie -- “Finding Dory,” “Inside Out,” or “Zootopia”?

By the end of the day, the results were tight. Winners in each race were:

  • Best Snack – Potato Chips 36%
  • Best Color – Blue 52%
  • Best Sport – Football 39%
  • Best Movie—Zootopia 40%
  • Best Pet – Dog 60%

See a photo gallery of all of the fun here.

“For our first annual election, we had a great turnout,” said Melissa Sexton, Child Life Specialist & Special Events Coordinator at Riley at IU Health. “I’ve been impressed by the number of absentee ballots that have been turned in by our kiddos who couldn’t make it down.”

Absentee ballots were delivered to the rooms of Riley kids not able to get to the voting booth, which was open in the hospital’s Teammates for Kids’ Child Life Zone.

The area was decked out in red, white and blue and featured “I Voted” stickers, election tattoos and a selfie booth.

Gannon Moseley, 7, stood holding his ballot Tuesday doing what plenty of Americans might have wanted to do -- sticking out his tongue. In the end, he forced himself to make some selections, including dog as the best animal.

Some voters, though, knew they didn’t have to choose what was on the ballot. Instead, they wrote in their favorites, which surprised Sexton who said she didn’t expect the kids to even know what a write-in was.

When it came to sports, there were write-in votes for soccer and ballet.  And for pets, hamster was added.

“And they didn’t like the primary colors,” Sexton said. “They wanted greens and purples so they exercised the opportunity to write those in.”

Too bad Karli didn’t know about that. She most certainly would have opted to write in pink.

But she was OK with choosing red; it’s her grandma’s favorite color. And Karli had already experienced a tremendous day.

After a month in the hospital, unable to walk as she battled transverse myelitis, Karli took her first steps in rehab Tuesday before she came down to vote, her mom Wendy Fowler said.

And that, regardless of how the election turns out, was the biggest win of them all.

-- By Dana Benbow

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