Connor Gentry is pictured at left with Anthony Nguyen, Erin Murphy and Caitie Kieser. The four students were the 2017-18 directors of Hope’s Dance Marathon.

Connor Gentry of Bloomington, Illinois, who graduated from Hope College earlier this month, is one of only 20 students from 300 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada selected to receive a 2018 Miracle Network Dance Marathon Distinguished Leadership Award.

The honorees were chosen from among the thousands of graduating seniors who have participated in the Miracle Network Dance Marathon for making an exceptional impact within their Dance Marathon program, on their individual campus and for their local Children’s Miracle Network hospital.  All 20 of the students are profiled on the network’s website.

Organized by Hope students, the college’s annual Dance Marathon is conducted on behalf of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in downtown Grand Rapids, both to raise funds and to build awareness of the hospital’s work.

Gentry participated in the event during all four of his years at Hope.  He was a 24-hour dancer as a freshman, and during the next three years was a member of its 30-member executive “Dream Team.”  He was security chair as a sophomore, and finance chair as both a junior and senior, additionally serving as one of four executive directors during his senior year.  He also personally raised more than $5,700 across his time at the college.

Gentry majored in engineering with a concentration in electrical engineering.  His activities at the college also included being a residential-life neighborhood coordinator and residence assistant, a member of the Volunteer Services Committee, a spring-break immersion trip leader, a morale coach for the Nykerk Cup competition and a member of the college’s chapter of the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership society.

Dance Marathon debuted at Hope in 2000.  Activities begin shortly after the start of the fall semester, and culminate in a 24-hour dance event in March.  In addition, to emphasize the children that the marathon exists to help, the Dance Marathon’s student organizers coordinate a variety of activities during the course of the school year to connect with families and children served by the hospital, and each of the families is paired with one of the participating student groups.

More than 30 student organizations and nearly 1,000 students participated this past year, raising more than $311,000.  Across its 19 years, the college’s Dance Marathon has raised more than $2.3 million.