In its opening moments the 20th annual Dance Marathon had already achieved one milestone, with a record-number 1,100 students participating.
A day later, the student-organized event ended with another, raising its highest total yet, $340,172.20, on behalf of the children served by Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital of Grand Rapids. The students were involved as dancers, morale boosters or in a variety of other roles, participating either individually or through membership in nearly 30 student organizations.
Held on Friday and Saturday, March 8-9 this year, Dance Marathon first came to the college 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. This year was the seventh in a row that the Hope event has bested its own fundraising record. In the 20 years from 2000 through 2019, Hope’s Dance Marathon raised a total of more than $2.67 million.
The marathon has called the Dow Center home every year but one since beginning in 2000. The event squeezed into the Phelps Hall dining hall in 2003 because Hope was hosting an NCAA basketball tournament at the Dow that year.
In recognition of its efforts, Hope’s Dance Marathon received the “Youth in Philanthropy Award” from the West Michigan Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in the fall of 2003.
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 Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. In addition, each of the families is paired with one of the participating student groups. Events this year included a cookout at Teusink’s Pony Farm in Holland this past fall; mini-marathons at West Ottawa High School, Zeeland East High School and Holland Christian High School; a Christmas party for the families in December; and participation in Project Night Lights outside of the hospital.
Students involved with Dance Marathon raised funds for the effort in a variety of ways, from Homecoming Weekend’s annual 5K Donut Run; to writing letters to family and friends; to bake sales; to a trivia competition; to a community chili cook-off; to a competitive cornhole tournament; to a silent auction held at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Holland.
Affiliated with the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Dance Marathon at Hope is one of more than 400 such efforts at colleges, universities and high schools nationwide. Miracle Network Dance Marathon has raised more than $250 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals since its inception in 1991.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is a 234-bed regional referral center and teaching hospital. It offers advanced pediatric specialty care with more than 300 pediatric physicians who practice in more than 50 pediatric specialties and programs. Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is Michigan’s largest neonatal center.
In order to help support the vast number of children who visit the hospital each year, all proceeds from the marathon will go directly towards the funding of special programs that are designed to make the young patients’ visits to the hospital more bearable; helping the families of the children to deal with their illnesses; and supplies related to treatment and care.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals is an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping children by raising funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals throughout North America.
Additional information about Dance Marathon and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is online.