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Hope students raise record-breaking $340K at 20th Dance Marathon

By Erin Dietzer/The Holland Sentinel • Mar 12, 2019 at 4:00 PM

HOLLAND — Hope College students had yet another record-breaking year with the school’s 20th Dance Marathon, raising $340,172.20 on March 8-9.

Since Hope College’s Dance Marathon began in 2000, the students have continuously beaten expectations for a school of their size, and the previous year’s fundraising record. This year’s $344,000 handily beat last year’s record of $311,442.10. The students had set the goal of raising $330,000 this year.

Over 20 years, the students have now raised nearly $3 million for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Friday and Saturday’s marathon saw participation from 1,088 students, a little over one-third of Hope’s student body. Students serve as dancers, moralers and other supportive roles. Whatever their role is, students are asked to at least remain on their feet for the full 24 hours to show they are standing in solidarity with the “miracle families,” families served by the hospital.

The 24-hour marathon kept students too busy to get too tired with testimonies by families served by the hospital, various performances by student and local groups, a popular lip-sync battle, a talent show from the “miracle kids” and more. Because it was the 20th year of the marathon, students also sang “Happy Birthday” to all of the miracle kids.

“The football team all talked about in the fall and we were adamant and our coach was adamant about getting as many of us involved as possible,” freshman Brady Beckhusen said.

Affiliated with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Dance Marathon at Hope is one of more than 300 such efforts at colleges, universities and high schools nationwide. Miracle Network Dance Marathons have raised more than $250 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals since 1991. The organization helps families with a hospitalized child cover the costs that aren’t covered by health insurance.

Hope students begin raising money for the Dance Marathon as soon as they get back to school in the fall. This year, students raised funds through events like Homecoming Weekend’s annual 5K Donut Run, bake sales, a trivia competition, a chili cookoff, a cornhole tournament and a silent auction.

Another huge fundraiser is mini dance marathons at West Ottawa High School, Zeeland East High School and Holland Christian High School. Extra chances to donate and raise funds are also held during the marathon itself.

“I’m going to take any chance to get involved in the community,” freshman Rahja Flowers-Mitchell said. “I’ve never been part of a Dance Marathon before, but it’s such a big and important part of Hope.”

Student groups are also paired up with miracle families, and have bonded this year though things like a cookout at Teusink’s Pony Farm in Holland, a Christmas party and participating in Project Night Lights, when kids patients at the hospital flash flashlights out of their windows, and local law enforcement and community members respond by flashing their lights back.

Most of the miracle families also got to hang out with their sponsor’s at Friday and Saturday’s marathon, participating in running through the annual “high-five tunnel” made by students at the beginning of the event.

“The volleyball team did a back to school event at DeVos,and it was so moving to see the kids and what they go through every day,” junior Gabbi Vachon said.“It’s a privilege to share this event with them.”

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