Dance Marathon provides endless opportunities


Lauren Adamski

I felt pride in what we were doing. I had met these kids and I knew the struggles they were facing and if I could help them – even in a small way – I was happy to do so,” WO Alum and current Hope College student Aine Snoap said. Snoap felt that Hope College’s Dance Marathon was a great success. All of her hard work had paid off. 

   In addition to planning the marathon, students from Hope College partner with local high schools to give them the opportunity to replicate Hope’s marathon on a smaller scale, known as a mini marathon. Help from Hope College is necessary for the mini marathons to run smoothly as the Hope experts often have the answers to many questions, help set up fundraisers, and provide contact information for potential sponsors. Not to mention, these mini marathons benefit Hope as the money raised by mini marathons is included in the grand total that Hope raises. 

   West Ottawa Dance Marathon (WODM) is a six-hour fundraising event full of crafts, food, dancing, storytelling, and more. On February 25, WODM was held in the South Cafeteria. During the event, students heard from miracle families who have been to Helen Devos Children’s Hospital (HDVCH) in Grand Rapids. All of the crafts that are made during the marathon are brought to HDVCH and given to the kids. One of the crafts at WODM was making beaded bracelets. Each bracelet was made by hand and had a little note of encouragement to go along with it. Each craft is fun and simple, but also gives participants a way to feel connected to the kids they are supporting. 

   WODM holds great importance for many WO students and staff. Frosh. Amanda Trusty has personally experienced children’s hospitals and was able to witness first-hand the impact these hospitals make on children’s lives. WODM was a great way for Trusty to help children who are in the same spot she once was. Others have not experienced HDVCH like Trusty, but are a part of WODM for various reasons. “I wanted to help raise money for Helen DeVos so they are able to continue to benefit families and take care of children who deserve the help,” Julia Jung said. 

   Individuals like Trusty and Jung have learned about the importance of HDVCH through stories told by miracle families every year at WODM. 

   Dance marathons emphasize the outstanding medical care HDVCH provides in addition to the hospital’s ability to ensure patients  feel loved and happy during their time at the hospital. 

   While dance marathons mainly raise funds to offset parents’ medical bills, it is equally important for participants to learn about HDVCH and understand that the money raised is going to an organization that truly cares about their patients.“Their stories reflect where our money goes to help a family’s stay be as comfortable and fun as possible,” Sr. Sarah Moraw said.

   Dance marathons are a nationwide event and extend to the college level. Hope College, Michigan State University, Butler University, and many other colleges host annual dance marathons. High school is the perfect time to get a taste of a dance marathon before going to college. 

   If students weren’t involved in dance marathons at the high school level, there are still opportunities to get involved in college. The impact and excitement surrounding dance marathons only increases at the college level. “At Butler University, our dance marathon is just a little more work. Our day is 12 hours instead of 6 and it’s just more involved,” WO Alum Matt Moraw said. At Hope College, the dance marathon lasts for 24 hours. As an entertainment chair, Snoap begins to plan the event in August in preparation for the marathon in March. “I love the deeper connection we get with the miracle families in college as well. It made the whole experience more real and I really understood who and what we are doing this for,” Snoap said.  

   Since the dance marathons are more involved in college, the variety of roles that are available expands. There is surely a place for everyone at a dance marathon. “People should participate because it gives them a chance to be part of something larger than themselves. Not only is it so much fun to do, you’ll get to meet an amazing group of people, truly have a chance to make a difference in someone’s life. Especially when talking with the miracle families; you see what an impact this event truly causes,” Snoap said. 

   Everyone should get involved in a dance marathon because “It is an amazing opportunity to support those who need it, and it’s also an amazing volunteer opportunity,” M. Moraw said.

   Regardless of the location of the event, the purpose of the dance marathon stays the same: to come together as a community for the kids who deserve acknowledgement and support. Dance marathons are about bringing joy to kids through including them in the marathon and letting them join in on the fun by getting to pie a teacher in the face while raising money and awareness for their time at HDVCH. Joy is truly at the heart of dance marathons and is an event everyone needs to experience during their time at college.