Family with 2 Riley Kids raising awareness of need for donations

Courtesy: Riley Children's Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Some of the best work in the country for young hospital patients is done not far away at Riley Hospital for Children. But they can always do better and that's why the Riley Children's Foundation is on a new mission. It wants to raise $175 million by June of 2020 in the "Be The Hope NOW" campaign.

Courtesy: Strayer Family

The money will go to research and patient care, family support and augmenting maternity and newborn health.

The Strayer family knows first hand about the care children get at Riley.

They have two Riley kids, 8-year-old Bailey and her 4-year-old sister Kennedy.

Kennedy is a veteran of several heart surgeries. She had the first when she was just a few weeks old.

In fact, the family moved here from Arizona to be closer to Riley doctors to treat Kennedy's heart condition.

Kennedy's mother Heather says the Riley staff took great care of her daughter and the rest of the family too, "They're there to help with siblings, so the parents can focus their energy on a sick child."

Child life workers took Bailey aside, played with her, and made her feel welcome.

Kennedy and Riley Child Life Specialist Lindsay Morgan - Courtesy: Riley Children's Foundation

A few years later, Bailey became the patient. She had a cyst removed from her leg. Her mother says, when she went to the hospital for her surgery, it was almost like a homecoming. "For one thing, they develop relationships with the care-givers, with the nurses, with the child life specialists. They really develop a different feeling," said Heather.

Courtesy: Strayer Family

A feeling that is shared by Bailey. While no active 8-year-old wants to be in the hospital, she says the staff helped. A lot. "They let me play in the fun zone", Bailey said. "We were playing together, reading books and playing with play-doh. It made me happy."

In other words, helping young patients focus on fun, rather than their medical challenges. The Riley foundation pays 75 percent of the cost for of Child Life Services and Heather Strayer says contributors are a vital part of the care her daughters have gotten, and continue to get, at Riley. "It's a whole group of people and part of that is the people who give, so the people who give are helping every one of those kids get better," said Heather.

To learn more and to find out how you can help, click here.