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Riley Champion Reflections

2023 Riley Champions waving
Riley Champions at Colts game (provided);

Some children turn their biggest challenges into their greatest strengths.

Riley Champions Presented by Kroger is a program that honors Riley patients and families across the state who demonstrate courage and commitment to helping others while navigating medical obstacles. They serve as advocates for Riley Children’s Foundation and Riley Children’s Health through sharing their stories publicly.

We invited our current class of Champions to share about their experience over the past year. Keep reading to learn more. Then, visit to nominate a child for our next class! Nominations are due by June 15.

What does Riley Children’s Health mean to you?

Alison Breitbarth, Indianapolis: For our family, Riley Children’s is a place where magic happens. Our son plays, laughs, makes friends, and sees his favorite nurses and Child Life Specialist while he is there. It is a place of hope and because of Riley we have been able to watch our son truly live each day to the fullest!

Camryn Saal, Fort Wayne: Riley saved my life. I feel safe when I go to Riley.

Veronica Salrin, Greenwood: Riley has helped me gain confidence and make many new friends. It means knowing I’m always in good hands.

Jonathin Perez, Indianapolis: For me, Riley means kindness. They help children in need.

What has been your favorite part about being a 2023 Riley Champion?

Alison: Being able to connect with other families and share our story.

Jayzen Oppelt, Lafayette: My favorite part of being a 2023 Riley Champion is getting to represent Riley, and also I have enjoyed getting to do Riley events!

Veronica: Being able to meet new friends and reach others with my advocacy.

If you could share a message with someone who is thinking about nominating a kid they know to be a Riley Champion, what would you say to encourage them?

Veronica: Go for it! Being a Riley Champion has been such a wonderful experience for me, and it can surely change a kid’s life for the better!

Camryn: You should nominate them. Riley kids have to go through so much and miss out on a lot of things other kids are experiencing. Being a Riley Champion will give them the opportunity to feel special and give back.

Jayzen: If you are thinking about nominating someone to be a Riley Champion I would not hesitate because it could change their life forever.

Candice Oppelt, Jayzen’s mom: If you are thinking about nominating someone to be a Riley Champion now is the best time. This experience has helped my son through so many rough times. He struggles with severe anxiety and Tourette Syndrome. Throughout this experience he has overcome his fears of talking to people and is so much more confident now. This has been one of the best years of our lives!

Why is it important to you to give back and help others?

Alison: It is important for us to give back and help others because we know what a difference it makes for families like ours.

Camryn: It is important to give back and help others because you never know when someone is going to need help or you might need help. Helping others will hopefully inspire others to give back.

Jonathin: Places like Riley helped me when I was in need. Now it’s my turn to help them and more children in need.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Camryn: I want to work with kids when I grow up.

Jayzen: When I grow up I want to be involved with basketball and if not that then I want to be in the Army, but no matter what I want to do photography as a side hustle.

Veronica: I want to work in the interior design field, specifically working in accessibility.

Jonathin: I want to play in the NBA and then when I retire I want to become a doctor and open my own hospital like Riley.