Story by: Julie Kruer on December 29, 2020
The Bellarmine University Dance Marathon (BUDM) will always be special to Katie Casale, because she has been on both sides of event — as an event founder when she was a student and now as a registered nurse at Norton Children’s Hospital.
The student-led dance marathon will hold its sixth annual event, virtually, on Friday, Jan. 22, to benefit Norton Children’s Hospital through the Children’s Miracle Network and the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation.
When Katie was a student at Bellarmine and a member of the Rho Zeta Chapter of Phi Mu, she helped to found the dance event after being inspired by another university’s dance marathon.
“We weren’t expecting anything big, but the turnout was better than expected,” Katie said.
The event raised more than $20,000 for Norton Children’s Hospital its first year, 2015. The event has continued to grow and now has raised more than $140,000 over the last five years.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Katie said. “You don’t know your impact as a student, but now that I’m a nurse, I see the impact of that support as I’m taking care of patients.”
Katie is a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital and has experienced firsthand how community support helps patients. The recent renovations to the NICU and the opening of the Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit were made possible because of community support through the Norton Children’s Hospital Foundation.
“We have all private rooms for babies and parents, and parents can stay in the rooms with their babies now,” Katie said. “BUDM not only serves the community, in a way, it serves us as nurses because if our patients are happy, we are happy.”
This year’s dance marathon — held virtually — is raising funds to help establish an endowed chair in honor of Erle H. Austin III, M.D., and his continuing work at Norton Children’s Heart Institute.
Samantha Lydon, the 2020 student director of the dance marathon, is proud to lead this year’s event, along with the dance marathon’s executive board, and carry on the work of students like Katie.
New this year, the event’s online fundraising website includes an alumni fundraising team so Bellarmine alumni can show their support for the current students’ efforts as well as for Norton Children’s Hospital.
This year’s virtual event is raising funds to help establish an endowed chair in honor of Erle H. Austin III, M.D., and his continuing work as a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. The endowed chair will expand Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s regional and national presence with the goal of continuing to elevate heart care for children in our region.