For a seventh consecutive year, Hope College students are putting their time and talents into the campus-wide Dance Marathon fundraiser "for the kids."

Organized by Hope students, the 24-hour event is conducted on behalf of DeVos Children's Hospital in downtown Grand Rapids, both to raise funds and to build awareness of the hospital's work. It will be held at the college's Dow Center beginning on Friday, March 10, at 7 p.m.

Activities began shortly after the beginning of the fall semester and have involved 20 student organizations. More than 500 Hope students will be participating in the March 10-11 Dance Marathon itself as dancers or morale boosters or in a variety of other roles.

Individual students involved with the effort have raised funds in a variety of ways, from canning--seeking donations with can in hand--to asking family and friends. Event-wide efforts included an auction in February. Every Tuesday, Papa John's pizza donates to Dance Marathon a portion of the proceeds from sales to those who say "It's for the kids" when ordering.

Affiliated with the Children's Miracle Network, Dance Marathon at Hope is one of more than 70 such efforts at colleges and universities nationwide.

Dance Marathon first came to Hope in March of 2000. Though a school of the college's size was only expected to raise about $5,000 in its first year, the students raised more than $23,000. In the six years from 2000 through 2005, Dance Marathon raised a total of more than $369,000.

In recognition of the program's efforts, Dance Marathon received the "Youth in Philanthropy Award" from the West Michigan Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in the fall of 2003.

A variety of events have been scheduled to punctuate the marathon, including testimonies by families served by the hospital, various performances by student and local groups, and the popular annual lip-sync. The total raised this year will be announced during a celebration at the conclusion of the marathon. Members of the public are invited to observe the marathon and activities.

DeVos Children's Hospital is the only hospital in western Michigan dedicated to providing comprehensive care to children, and is also the only Children's Miracle Network hospital on the western side of the state. The hospital provides medical care generally not available at community hospitals, and serves as a referral center for newborns, infants, children and adolescents. Nearly 136,000 visits are made to the hospital annually, including more than 7,600 admissions and more than 129,000 outpatient visits. Last year, the hospital served children from 79 counties in Michigan and from 42 states.

Children's Miracle Network is an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping children by raising funds and awareness for 170 children's hospitals throughout North America. Each year, these non-profit hospitals treat 17 million children with diseases, injuries and birth defects of every kind.

Additional information about Dance Marathon and the DeVos Children's Hospital can be found on the Dance Marathon Web site, reachable through the college's Web site at:

The Dow Center is located on Columbia Avenue at 13th Street.