Hailey Perryman has never been a patient at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, yet the12-year-old from Merrillville has spent the last five years pouring her energy into raising funds and awareness for Riley. Her annual “Kool-Aid for Riley” week raised more than $8,000 for Riley Hospital last summer, bringing her 5-year total to nearly $22,000 for Riley. It’s more than your typical lemonade stand: Hailey’s fundraiser also offers attractions such as a balloon artist, face painting and bake sales. Last summer, she even dressed in a dog costume to attract more donors outside a Merrillville Fire Station.
Hailey asks for nothing in return for her efforts. Her only request is that her funds be used to address the hospital's most immediate needs. Her extraordinary generosity, however, has not gone unnoticed in her hometown. Merrillville has created a permanent holiday in her honor: December 15 is “Hailey Perryman Day,” thanks to a proclamation by the town council. She has kept a scrapbook with newspaper articles and photos of her annual fundraiser, along with cards she has received from appreciative people all over the country.
Hailey’s younger sister Brooke now attends Salk Elementary in Merrillville, which is one of the state’s top ten Kids Caring & Sharing fundraising schools. Salk Elementary physical education teacher Ladd Downham oversees the school’s annual jump-a-thon for Riley, which offers students a simple way to give back to Riley while moving their muscles.
In the future, Hailey plans to continue her summertime fundraisers for Riley, but her plans don’t stop there. She hopes to study medicine Indiana University and become a physician. Her dream: to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. When anyone asks Hailey why she does so much for Riley, she has a simple answer: “I feel bad for the kids who are sick, and I want to help them."