For weeks and months leading up to last Friday, posters, fundraisers and word-of-mouth advertising have helped raise awareness for the annual event known as the 24-hour Dance Marathon. This is Hope’s 20th consecutive year participating in the Dance Marathon, affiliated with Miracle Network Dance Marathon. For some, the concept of a dance marathon may warrant thoughts of sore muscles, drama or extreme exhaustion, while others may view it as one big party. However you look at it, Hope’s dance marathon is vastly different than the typical “Gilmore Girls” type marathon because of the cause it supports and the way the event is planned out.
The dance marathon at Hope is centered around one cause, specifically one acronym: FTK (for the kids). The goal of this day-long event is to raise funds and awareness to help the Devos Children’s Hospital, located in downtown Grand Rapids. What makes this experience so special and so personal is that each miracle child, who was treated at DeVos, attends the marathon with his or her family to watch the progress of the donations and see the students actively support them. Room and board was provided at the Dow Center for the kids and their families so that they could be present for the entire experience with the least inconvenience possible. Having the miracle kids at the marathon helped motivate students to persist through their fatigue in order to support the cause.
The fact that students were willing to go through the physical hardships of this marathon and give up so much time out of a weekend shows their deep level of commitment. To lighten the load, the Dream Team and other student committees planned events to help dancers enjoy themselves all throughout the marathon. One dancer, Abby Book (’22) commented: “It was hard to be energetic and also pretend that I was not dying of sleep deprivation. It was a fun experience overall, and it was all for the kids!” Some of the events this year included mini marathons, rave, hip hop anonymous, lip sync battle, swing dance club, chapel band, yoga, and more. Other than these events, another integral part of the marathon was testimonies from the miracle kids and their families, who told the stories of their trials and successes in treatment from the DeVos Children’s Hospital.
Each miracle child was given a chance to be heard and celebrated by students, visitors, other miracle kids and families. Every hour or so, students were taught a new piece of a nine-minute dance to be performed toward the end of the marathon. Overall, Hope’s Dance Marathon 2019 was a smashing success and raised a total amount of $340,172.20, which was $10,000 over the goal. And while the event was endless fun for students and visitors alike, there’s no denying that it was all FTK! Dance Marathon is a annual event, and even though students and the kids may change, it is for the kids.