Superheroes flex their heart muscles for Riley walkathon



Walk Web

Pediatric critical care patients, families and team members come together to show appreciation.

The lawn across from Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health was swarming with superheroes Saturday for the fourth annual Pediatric Critical Care Walkathon, a fundraiser for Riley Children’s Foundation.

It could have been called Superhero Saturday – and not just because of the kids. Superheroes come in all sizes. Physicians and nurses, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles – all came out to support Riley and the lifesaving critical care it provides to children.

Under sunny skies, families and volunteers enjoyed games, snacks and reunions with staff, followed by a couple laps around the Riley campus.


PICU nurse Erin Kramer smiling at Riley Walkathon

Gavin, Amanda, and Gavin's service dog excited for Walkathon

Sophia and Jonathin Perez wearing superhero masks at Walkathon
Johns family photo during their time at Walkathon


While the reunions among families and the PICU and CVICU medical professionals were mostly joyful, the release of balloons in memory of those children who have passed brought tears to many eyes.

Vern Farnum, director of Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy Services for the AHC, said the symbolic release of balloons is a way to acknowledge the pain suffered by families and team members when a child has died.

The Jacksons family honoring their daughter at Walkathon

“We gather here to celebrate our love, to commemorate those who are no longer with us physically, yet they are forever with us in our memories and in our hearts,” he said.

“Folks live forever with the fact that their child died, so helping them along the road is something we can do. It means our care didn’t end, our care continues for the families,” Varnum said. “As we release these balloons, let us send forth our love and our care for each and every one of them.”

Andre and Dominique Jackson appreciated those words and the opportunity to remember their daughter, Josselyn, who died before her first birthday in 2015.

“We come to this every year, Dominique said. “We get to see a lot of people who made a great impact on her life. It’s an honor. We get to honor our daughter and we get to say thank you.”

– By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist