Hope College’s Dance Marathon surpassed the event’s goal, raising $311,442.19 for the kids of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. The 24- hour fundraiser that started on Friday and ended Saturday was a success not only monetarily, but inspirationally for the miracle families, as thousands of Hope students dedicated their weekends to celebrating and dancing with the kids that have been treated by the hospital. Dancers and moralers heard the stories of miracle families, each family creating a video of their personal journey through illness and sharing their thanks to all attendees and donators to the event.
Some of the families included the Wiersma family, who lost their son, Max Wiersma, this past October. Greek organization Phi Sigma Kappa danced for Max, created a banner in his honor, and gave a Spider-Man toy to Max’s brother, Wes Wiersma. Wes had a spectacular time in a superhero cape, dancing and playing with all the students, celebrating his brother’s short life. Stories such as that of the Wiersma family are a reminder of what Dance Marathon seeks to accomplish, supporting the hospital but also serving families that have the strength to watch their children and siblings go through serious medical treatment.
The event provided an array of activities for the miracle families and students, from cornhole, inflatable slides, caricatures artists, Zumba, rave and a rock band. Crowds of dancers and moralers twirled and jumped alongside the kids during Zumba, learning quick steps and new dance movies to Latino music together.
Beach balls were bounced around the crowd as the performing band played songs such as Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” and The Isley Brothers’ “Shout.”
The kids performed on stage, giving the audience dance moves to their favorite songs. The Dance Marathon crowd was in a constant celebration mood, partying all night with the kids who were allowed to stay up past their bedtimes and were very proud because of it. Students formed circles around the kids as they showed off their moves in the middle, from break dancing to ballet steps. Some of the miracle kids even out-danced some of the older students.
To keep spirits up, Dance Marathon had student performances, including a Greek Organization dance-off between the new classes, HHA (Hip-Hop Anonymous) Dance company performance, and the ending line dance competition with the winners named by the morale squad, Jonathan Alvaro (’18) and Sarah Melby (’18).
Dancers and moralers went wild seeing their friends and fellow students moving for the kids and keeping morale high. Throughout the event, students snacked on hot dogs, donuts and frozen yogurt as they enjoyed the music and grooving. Dance Marathon was decorated in beach-themed items such as beach balls, sand buckets and toys, mermaid cutouts, leis and banners surrounding the room for each miracle family child from all the participating organizations on Hope’s campus.
As the event concluded, the long-standing tradition of miracle families thanking and high-fiving each dancer and moraler took place. The students created a large circle around the Dow gymnasium and had the chance to meet each individual member of the miracle families they danced for. Tears were shed by both families and students, and numerous thank you’s were given as Hope’s 19th Dance Marathon finished strong.