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Why I Give: Hilary Runyon

Hilary Runyon and her grandchildren
Hilary Runyon with her grandchildren, Brandon and Sara, at the 2023 Ball State University Dance Marathon.

There are moments in life that could never be given a price.

Hilary Runyon had one of those moments in February 2023 - with her heart absolutely full of joy and satisfaction - during the Ball State University Dance Marathon (BSUDM), an annual collegiate fundraising event supporting Riley Children’s Foundation.

Her grandson, Brandon, was in his second year serving as President of BSUDM. He knew his grandmother planned to make a significant donation in support of his Riley fundraising efforts. It was a way for her to honor the memory of her late husband, Brandon’s grandfather, Dennis. But Hilary had kept the full amount of her gift a secret.

When Brandon was brought up on stage during the final hours of the dance marathon, he learned the amount of her gift: $150,000. “When they announced it, his mouth just dropped, and he actually teared up,” says Hilary. “It was such a great feeling!” Brandon says he felt shocked and honored to be a part of his grandparents’ legacy of generosity. “I knew that while this was amazing for me, this gift was going to change the lives of so many kids,” he says. “I was smiling from ear to ear. It was a really special moment.”

Hilary and Dennis had been deeply committed to philanthropy and volunteering over the years as his career path took them across many states, eventually landing in Ohio with Eaton Corporation. It wasn’t until Brandon’s older sister, Sara, got involved with BSUDM that the Runyons learned about the great work happening at Riley Children’s Health, one state away from them. They learned the funds raised by BSUDM specifically support two areas at Riley: palliative care (services that bring comfort and pain relief to children facing life-limiting conditions) and the Magic Castle Cart, which delivers toys and smiles to kids’ hospital rooms.

The Riley cause felt personal for the Runyons. Dennis battled cancer beginning in his 60s, and the couple developed deep compassion for children facing catastrophic illnesses. “Being an adult is hard enough. I can’t imagine being a child going through that,” Hilary says. “The last time my husband was in the hospital, palliative care came. That touched my heart. They are so compassionate. It was so impactful.”

A lightbulb went off for Hilary as she considered what to do with the required minimum distribution from her IRA. She connected with Riley Children’s Foundation Planned Giving Director Alexandra Beach and confirmed that Riley Children’s Foundation (which manages the Riley Dance Marathon programs at schools across Indiana) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Hilary worked with Alexandra to form a personalized plan to make two IRA rollover gifts (for 2022 and 2023) to Brandon’s BSUDM fundraising campaign, in memory of Dennis.

“They were always doing something for the betterment of others,” says Brandon. “This gift in honor of my grandfather keeps his legacy of philanthropy and volunteering alive.” Hilary shares this advice with others considering leveraging their investments to make a high-impact charitable gift: “Think of where your money can have the most impact. I felt like the more you can give in a lump the more impact it has - why nickel and dime it around to a lot of places?” For Hilary, there was no better place to support than the renowned children’s hospital she discovered through her grandchildren’s advocacy. “Kids don’t deserve what they’re going through. It is so heartwarming to know you’re making a difference in a small way.”


To discuss Riley planned giving options, including IRA rollovers, contact:

Alexandra Beach, JD

Planned Giving Director
Riley Children’s Foundation

Office: 317.624.2675

Mobile: 317.371.4397