A day spent shadowing a nurse at Riley Hospital for Children changed Karlee Hepp's life. The compassion, dedication and care she witnessed set her own career plans in motion — becoming a pediatric nurse. As president of the Purdue University Dance Marathon, she has found the perfect match for her interests. She has fun and works hard organizing a series of fundraisers for Riley that culminate each November in an 18-hour dance marathon. Under Karlee's leadership, this year's event set an all-time high by raising $528,654.67 for the hospital.
"I feel like I'm still a kid at heart," she says. "The Riley children I've had the opportunity to meet through dance marathon are my heroes and role models. They will be my inspiration day in and day out once I'm on the job."
When she was in high school, Karlee shadowed a Riley nurse. "To this day, those eight hours were one of the best experiences of my life. The nurses were constantly at the bedside, making all of their patients feel better both physically and emotionally," she says. "I've had my heart set on becoming a nurse ever since. It's a career where I can make a difference every day and I couldn't ask for anything better." Her motto? Carpe DM (DM stands for dance marathon).
- No small task
Describing herself as "driven, caring and passionate," Karlee spends up to 40 hours each week in her job as president of Purdue Dance Marathon. She oversees a group of 25 executive members, 400 committee members and 1,800 participants, describing her teammates as "the most kindhearted and passionate people I have ever met in my life."
"If you were to tally up all of the ways I have given to dance marathon, I guarantee that it has given me much more in return," she says.
- School spirit
A graduate of Hamilton Southeastern High School north of Indianapolis, Karlee loved Friday night football. "There's nothing else like it! Dressing up in school colors and heading to the big game with your closest friends was a perfect way to spend a Friday night," she says. "It also wouldn't be football season without ending the night around a bonfire."
- But can she dance?
Karlee describes herself as the world's biggest klutz. "I have no coordination whatsoever," she says. "I've been known to bust a move once or twice in front of the mirror in my room, but in public I stick strictly to line dances (especially the line dance we perform at the marathon)."