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Hope College students dance for 24 hours straight for Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

The more than $350,000 raised benefits Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. Students were able to meet the families who are impacted by these lifesaving funds.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — For 24 straight hours, the Dow Center at Hope College was full of students dancing, playing games, and raising money all for the kids. The even started at 5 p.m. Friday and lasted through the night, with the final dollar amount raised being revealed at 5 p.m. Saturday. 

"We stand in solidarity for the sick children," said Hope College student Madeline Puckett. "We say that we get to stand because they’re stuck in beds and that’s no way for a child to live."

Puckett is the events director, and has been involved every year of her college career. She says her favorite part of the event each year are the 'Miracle Families,' parents and children who receive treatments at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital and directly benefit from every cent raised.

"I graduated in '01, and it was the second year of the dance marathon," said Miracle Family Mother and Hope College Alumnus Beth Pool. "It was teeny, I don’t remember how many people maybe 40. Look how many kids are participating now and the difference they’re making."

Pool's Daughter, Evie, is a miracle child. Diagnosed with Mitochondrial Disease, Epilepsy and suffering from other Neurological and GI Track difficulties doctors said she wouldn't make it past a year. At 9 years old, not only is she alive and well, she's running the dance floor.

"If she lived anywhere else in the world, she would not be here with us today," said Brendan Pool, Evie's Father. He's beyond thankful for the treatment she's able to receive in Grand Rapids at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, and says many of the things that make life easier when they're there are a result of the funding from Hope's Dance Marathon.

"She has to go get EEG’s. They're 48- or 72-hour scans," He said. "They used to have to keep her in the bed and she was connected to all the wires. They were able to go to wireless units thanks to the funding from the dance marathon."

Since the marathon lasts for a full 24 hours, the activities are an important part of keeping people engaged and energized throughout. Zumba instructors, Game areas, bounce houses and more made up some, but for the majority of the dancers 13 On Your Side talked to, the most impactful part of the day is hearing directly from the Miracle Families. 

"Their stories just make it feel really real and that just brings it down to earth," said Hope College junior Maddy Williams. "The Miracle families are really the star of the whole marathon."

Williams is the finance director for the event. She says the fundraising goal, $343,853.73, corresponds to a phone dial pad and the numbers it would take to spell out 'Do It For The Kids Every Single Day'. By the time the final song played on Saturday night, they had raised $350,428.23

For Puckett, whose in her senior year, she says her last dance marathon is bittersweet. More than anything, she's going to miss the people the kids event is working to help.

"I’m going to remember them running through the tunnel, I'm going to remember them doing the talent show," She said. "I'm going to remember their laughs and their smiles and their families."

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