The Saint Mary’s cheerleading squad gained a new member during Wednesday’s basketball game against Adrian College when 14-year-old Keondia Woodley joined their ranks. Woodley, a cancer survivor who received treatment at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, relished the opportunity to be a part of the Saint Mary’s cheering squad. “[Cheering] was so fun,” Woodley said. “I felt close to all the cheerleaders when I met them.” The Dance Marathon-sponsored “Cheer Your Heart Out” event at Wednesday’s game raised funds for Riley and provided Woodley with the opportunity to cheer with the Belles and share her story with the crowd at halftime. “I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in August of 2008,” Woodley said. “But Riley Hospital for Children, along with the love and support of my family, is why I’m here today.” Students, faculty and fans in attendance were invited to contribute spare change to red Miracle Minute donation buckets at halftime, and all proceeds from the buckets benefitted Riley as well. Juniors and fundraising executive co-chairs Kate Kellogg and Liz Kraig planned the event with two goals in mind. “Cheer Your Heart Out was a unique opportunity,” Kraig said. “It was a time to show school spirit by supporting our fellow Belles as well as a great reminder of the importance and impact Dance Marathon is able to make to the families at Riley.” Senior and Dance Marathon president Becca Guerin said she enjoyed collaborating with other Saint Mary’s clubs and activities in support of Riley. “The game was especially cool because we were not only showing support for Riley, but cheering on our team as well,” Guerin said. “It was great school spirit, but we also had the special connection with Dance Marathon through having Keondia cheer at the game.” Although final collections were not tallied at press time, Kellogg said she was pleased with the returns from the Miracle Minutes. “Every bit counts,” Kellogg said. “We really want to raise awareness because a lot of people have heard of Dance Marathon, but don’t see where the money goes. Having Keondia cheering here on campus just goes to show why Dance Marathon is so special.” Junior Lauren Berry said the event, especially Woodley’s presence, forged a strong connection between Saint Mary’s, Dance Marathon and Riley. “I think it’s great to hold personal events like this to let [Woodley] shine,” Berry said. “It’s one single event, but it makes such a difference. It shows the impact that Dance Marathon has on Riley patients firsthand.” Woodley, now three years in remission from cancer, said she is healthy, happy and settling into her freshman year at Elkhart Memorial High School. “This really meant a lot to me,” Woodley said. “I loved cheering with them and I love all the support everyone has for Riley.” This year’s Dance Marathon will be held March 31 in Angela Athletic Facility.