Shortly into a conversation with Cami Trachtman, political science major and member of the Hanover College Class of 2017, it’s not much of a surprise when the name of a TV character comes up.

Trachtman says even her mother calls her “Leslie Knope.”

Like that fictional heroine of “Parks and Recreation,” which is set in equally make-believe Pawnee, Ind., Trachtman is an other-oriented achiever who prizes teamwork and time management in setting and meeting personal and civic goals.

For Trachtman, a member of the Business Scholars Program from Carmel, Ind., those goals produce results found in the classroom (3.68 GPA), in cross country and track and field (she trains year-round for the 5K and 6K runs, as well as the 1,500-meter and 5,000-meter races) and in humanitarian extracurricular activities such as Chi Omega sorority and Hanover’s Dance Marathon, which benefits children in need of medical care.

“Dance Marathon was a memorable part of my high school experience,” Trachtman says. “After seeing all my friends at Indiana and Purdue participate in Dance Marathon, and realizing that Hanover was one of the only colleges in the state that did not have a Dance Marathon program, I thought it would be fun to begin one."

In 2015, its inaugural year, Hanover’s Dance Marathon involved about 200 students and raised $12,339.18 for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Hanover now belongs to a community of universities whose student Dance Marathons “completely fund the Ryan White Center for Pediatric Infectious Disease, an entire wing of Riley Hospital for Children,” Trachtman said.

The fun of the Hanover marathon yielded a more personal reminder of how the event helps children and families.

“About a month after Hanover’s first Dance Marathon last year,” Trachtman says, “my cousin, Drake, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He was transported by helicopter to Riley and has been treated there ever since.”

The marathon also serves as a bridge to what Trachtman hopes to do with her life after she earns her undergraduate degree: pursuing a graduate degree in public health or health care administration, and then working in a health department or hospital, or as an advocate for health care-based agencies.

Her Leslie Knope-ness pops up again.

“I’m not sure if I have a life philosophy,” Trachtman says, “but I do try to live my life in a way that makes a difference in the lives of others.”

She does: The second Hanover Dance Marathon took place on March 12 and raised $21,303 for Riley Hospital for Children.

By Pam Platt