Local business raises more than $7K for Riley

Employees and customers at the five Johnson Junction locations raised more than $7,200 to be given to Riley Hospital for Children.
Employees and customers at the five Johnson Junction locations raised more than $7,200 to be given to Riley Hospital for Children. Photo provided.

A local business is sending more than $7,200 to Riley Hospital for Children, the result of a fund-raising campaign fueled by personal connections to the Indianapolis hospital by both the company's owner and one of its employees.

Darlene Stanley, owner of the five Johnson Junction locations, selected Riley Hospital as the beneficiary of the company's 2013 fund-raiser. The seed for that decision was planted in the fall of 2012, when Stanley learned that her niece's four-month-old son, Elijah Whitacre, was being sent to Riley.

The baby, son of Nate and Kayla Whitacre, had two holes in his heart, each the size of a dime, and urgently needed open heart surgery. He received the surgery at Riley that December, and is now a thriving 1-year-old.

When Stanley announced this year's company fund-raiser, she offered a paid day of vacation to the employee who raised the most money for Riley, and another paid day of vacation - along with bragging rights for a year - to the manager whose store raised the most money.

Like Stanley, Mary Lou Rahr, an employee of the Johnson Junction on Guilford Street, also had a soft spot in her heart for Riley. Her granddaughter, 17-year-old Paige Vanover, has been treated for seizures at Riley for the past two years and will have brain surgery to repair nerve damage this September. Vanover, who has been treated by many doctors at many hospitals, sang Riley's praises to her grandmother.

During the week-long fund-raising campaign, Rahr single-handedly raised more than $1,000 for Riley, earning the paid day off.

Rahr plans to spend her free vacation day at Riley with Vanover's parents, Brandi and Kain Vanover, on the day her granddaughter has her surgery.

Complete caption: Employees and customers at the five Johnson Junction locations raised more than $7,200 to be given to Riley Hospital for Children. Employee Mary Lou Rahr (right) raised more than $1,000 and claimed the free day off offered by company owner Darlene Stanley (left). Rahr plans to spend her free vacation day at Riley Hospital this summer when her granddaughter, Paige Vanover (center), has brain surgery.