Fishers family brings the noise to give back to Riley kids
A Fishers family has been making some noise at an Indianapolis hospital, and it's all in the name of helping others.
These are much happier times for the Andritsch family of Fishers as they arrive at Riley Hospital for Children. Over the last few years, they've been stopping by to drop off bags of items, filled with gifts for children and families who get the life-changing news of serious illness.
Vicky Andritsch got that kind of news when her son Luke was just three years old.
"He went from being in active healthy happy little boy running around on Friday night to waking up Saturday morning being unable to walk," said Vicky.
Luke was diagnosed with leukemia and would endure more than three years of chemotherapy and treatment. He is now cancer free, but comes back every few months,
Luke says now when he visits Riley, "We pass out rhythm packs which is just a bag full of musical instruments."
Luke's mom told us, "Part of what was important to our family was what can we give these patients that they can do in the middle of the night when the steroids are keeping them awake or when they don't have energy to get out of bed."
Luke's family says they've distributed about 500 of the rhythm packs since the program began. They say they're goal is to have one for every child diagnosed with cancer. That's about 25 each month.
The family also regularly leads a drum circle which invites those around them to join in on the fun.
Grace Andritsch is Luke's sister. "We can have dozens and dozens of patients down and you see kids with all sorts of different things going on in their lives and you don't really need to know what's going on in their lives to just have an understanding with them and have a connection with them and just see them happy," she said.
Ann Hannan is a music therapist at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. "It was such an amazing experience I have been involved in music my entire life and it's probably one of the coolest things I've ever experienced."
Vicky Andritsch says it was during Luke's cancer treatments, she noticed the effect drumming had on him, "and he was sitting there playing and one of my daughters with me who is probably seven or eight at the time and she leaned over to me and she said mom look at the look on Luke's face and for the first time in years I saw my little boy again behind that mask of chemotherapy and I saw that sparkle in his eye and I will never forget that."
Luke told us, "The other kids I know what they're going through so I want to make them feel good with the rhythm packs."
And the Andritsch family says they'll continue to keep drumming up the healing sounds for the patients here at Riley Hospital.
The family is holding fundraisers to keep their effort going. Click here to learn more.