Student Blog- Gina Schierbeek

Hi! I’m Gina Schierbeek, and I’m a junior here at Hope College. I’m studying a Management major with an Art minor. Of the many things that I love about being a student at Hope Col, Dance Marathon has got to be at the top. I began my love of DM my freshman year, when I participated as a dancer for the full 24 hours with my sorority, Sigma Iota Beta. After many laughs, tears, and family testimonies, I realized quickly how in love with this event I was and how badly I wanted to stay connected for my next three years at Hope. My sophomore year, I was a Moraler for the girls in my sorority as they got to experience DM for the full time for the first time. I found myself spending much more time than my designated shift there, too eager to arrive and unable to leave. It was then I realized that for my junior year, I wanted to take on even more responsibility in such an amazing event. This led me to becoming a DGR (Designated Group Representative) for SIB, alongside the lovely Marissa Solorzano, who’s a sophomore this year. My job as a DGR allows me to be the person that relays any information about Dance Marathon to my girls, and this job is a DREAM because I get the opportunity to combine my top two favorite things at Hope: Dance Marathon and my SIBs. Screenshot (97)

The girls in my organization are so passionate about DM, which makes my job super easy. I am constantly in awe by how big their hearts are for this cause and event, and I love seeing and helping them get excited about dancing for our sweet Lydia Bouwens, encouraging each other to fundraise and participate in fundraising events (shoutout to my non-athletic SIBs doing the 5k!), and spending time dancing for the kids on the actual day of! Lydia is Sigma Iota Beta’s Miracle Child, and we are constantly in awe of how tough and sassy and bubbly she is. Thanks to the amazing medical care at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, she is once again a healthy 7 year old after 15 months of chemo to knock out an Optic Pathway Glioma.

Last year alone, Hope College raised over $250,000 dollars! What an amazing featScreenshot (96) by such an amazing community. I am constantly blown away by that number. I feel so lucky to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. Dance Marathon and the cause it supports holds such a special, special place in my heart. Every year, my experience gets better and better, and I am SO excited for the year to come! FTK!

Student Blog-Mikayla Hubley

“I have had so much fun this week, I forgot I had arthritis”.

It’s words like these, from sweet children who are battling illness, that inspire me to be a part of Dance Marathon. It was at the event where I discovered my passion to care for children and families who are struggling with serious medical conditions, and I believe Dance Marathon does an incredible job of helping kids feel like kids, valued and cherished for exactly who they are.
I have had the privilege of being a Designated Group Representative for the Nursing Team for the past two years. When I first was offered the position, I honestly did not know much of what it entailed. There were times when I was overwhelmed, and also amazed, and the amount of work that goes into the Dance Marathon event. However, what amazed me even more is that the work was done with an incredible amount of passion, enthusiasm, and joy. The students of Hope long to help the Dance Marathon kiddos feel like kids, something that is so important when dealing with such heavy illnesses, and something that I will forever treasure and hold dear to my heart.
Being a part of Dance Marathon is in the “top three” of my cherished experiences during my three and a half years at Hope. Although the days of planning and meeting were long, they were filled with purpose; the purpose to care for God’s children, to love them and work to ensure their ability to thrive. This is what I believe is so important about Dance Marathon. We are on this Earth to serve the Lord, love his people, and work hard to help them flourish; by being a part of Dance Marathon, you are able to do this. You are able to use your unique gifts to serve and care for God’s children, no matter what you are majoring in or planning to work as. What a beautiful opportunity, and one I pray you will take throughout your time here at Hope, and beyond!

Student Blog-Rachel VanZytveld

Hello! My name is Rachel VanZytveld and I am a junior at Hope College. Here, I study Special Education with an emphasis on Learning Disabilities.  It is the best time of the year again; Dance Marathon is back in action and ready to roll! I first began as a dancer for Dance Marathon in March 2015, where my love and passion grew immensely. Now, for the 2nd year in a row, I am given the amazing opportunity to take a leadership role as the Campus Relations Co-Chair on the Dance Marathon Dream Team. My role is to create an environment at Hope College that includes the entire community by establishing teams consisting of sororities, fraternities, sports, clubs, departments, and dorms! This role has given me so many new friendships with the teams DGRs and the miracle families.Rachel Blog I have especially grown close with the Bouwens. Lydia is the miracle child for my sorority, Sigma Iota Beta. We love this sweet and sassy girl with all 76 of our hearts. I will be dancing for sweet Lydia Hope Bouwens. Lydia was diagnosed with an Optic Pathway Glioma in November 2012. Treatment required 15 months of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, which ended up exceeding all expectations. With the tumor shrinking, she also gained remarkable visual improvement. Lydia returns to Helen Devos every six months to make sure she is still a healthy little 7- year-old. Lydia’s latest appointment this past July, went better than ever and she was a tough cookie as she entered her MRI with no sedation. Come meet sweet Lydia Hope and the other amazing miracle families on March 10-11 at the Dance Marathon!

Dance Marathon and the students of Hope College you make a bigger impact on these families lives than you will ever know! Keep raising money, keep building this positive community, and sign up to join us on our mission to $262,000. Forever & Always, for the kids.

Student Blog-Abby Veldink

Hi! My name is Abby Veldink and I am a junior at Hope. Here, I study special education with the hope of working with students with behavior disorders or autism. My passion for people with special needs stems from growing up with two sisters with disabilities and complex medical needs. I have seen life out of a unique lens that many haven’t had the opportunity to see out of. I have watched my sisters’ suffer a great deal, however, I have seen them enjoy life and overcome obstacles, too! Throughout my life, my sisters have spent hundreds of hours at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. The medical teams that have attended to my sisters’ rare condition have improved their quality and quantity of life immensely! Without the cutting edge medical insights that these physicians provide, I would not have gotten to experience the childhood with my sisters that I did. Because of the treatment they received at HDCH, my family could live as “normal” of a life as possible.

Growing up, Dance Marathon was always a part of my family’s routine. Every time March rolled around, my family would begin counting down the days until the marathon! This was such a special part of my year for many reasons. I loved being able to stay up late, I loved being surrounded by cool college kids, and I loved seeing a community of people rally around children and families that were dealt a difficult hand in life. For the 24 hours of the marathon, my sisters weren’t stared at because they used wheelchairs. People didn’t look at them and ask questions or make assumptions, they simply celebrated them for who they were as individuals. College students that I had never met hung out with my sisters and me. They played with us, laughed with us, and drank pop way past our bed-time with us! I was able to interact with other people my age that had siblings with high medical needs, too. As incredible as it was to see the amount of money raised for the hospital, the community of Dance Marathon is what is constantly stands out to me. I can not emphasize enough what this event means to the families involved. During the marathon, people who need a break from reality get to enter a jam-packed gym full of college students who simply care. The marathon is so much more than money raised for an awesome cause, the marathon is a rest and a recharge for families who need a break from reality and a reminder that they aren’t in this fight alone.
Being a part of Dance Marathon as a miracle family and now as a Hope College student has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I look at the miracle families now and I am immediately filled with joy and gratitude for the community this event forms! Seeing Dance Marathon from a miracle family perspective as well as a Hope student perspective has been a gift. From both viewpoints, I have seen that Hope students truly care. It is incredibly humbling to see my peers give up time, energy, and money to support complete strangers. The community of Dance Marathon; and of Hope College, truly shine the light of Christ by showing people that they are not in this fight alone.
Students of Hope College, you make a bigger impact than you know! It has been a humbling experience to see this community rally around kids and families to show their care. Keep raising money, keep building community, and keep going out of your way to show the love of Christ to these kids!

Why I Do Dance Marathon by Erin Murphy


Why I Do Dance Marathon

Image Credit: Erin Murphy

The happiest day of the year is almost here. We’re just days away from Dance Marathon, friends.

Dance Marathon is a 24-hour dance event that takes place on March 11 and 12 this year. Running from 5 p.m. on Friday to 5 p.m. on Saturday, the event raises money for the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The event itself includes dancing, food, games, live music and lip syncs to keep students smiling and awake for the full duration of the event. But the best part is getting to hear the stories from the Miracle Families themselves. These Miracle Children, who have received or are currently receiving treatment from HDCH, will be in attendance, dancing the night away and partying with all of their college friends.

I have been so passionate about Dance Marathon since I came to Hope College. I have had the privilege of serving on different committees during my past two years here and I have fallen in love with Dance Marathon, Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, the work each of these organizations does, and of course, the kiddos.

Come on, how precious are they?

These bright, shining faces are just two of the many Miracle Children that Dance Marathon celebrates. They have overcome incredible adversity and beaten the odds with their families, doctors and nurses by their sides. I am constantly inspired by the hope and joy each of these kids has in their life, especially the kids who are still receiving treatment for their chronic illnesses.

I dance for them.

I dance so they have the opportunity to live full, happy lives filled with love and healing. I dance so they can have more birthdays and dance parties and so that they can grow up to be college students and maybe lead their own Dance Marathons.

Being a part of an organization as dedicated and driven as DM has been an incredible experience. Last Monday, a campus-wide goal was set to raise $17,000 in 24 hours in honor of the 17th annual Dance Marathon event at Hope College. And you know what?

$17,523.75 was raised that day alone.

How amazing is that?

For those of you participating in the event, I’d love to say something special to you.

Thank you.

Thank you for supporting these amazing kids and so many others who are undergoing treatment at HDCH now and in the future. Thanks for making these kids lives a little brighter, especially on their favorite day of the year. Don’t forget why you’re dancing, wearing fun costumes, and experiencing extreme sleep deprivation. It’s cliche, but it’s truly for the kids. Also, go all out for the theme hours and keep moving during the actual event. Trust me, it helps and the kids love it.

For those of you who still want to get involved in the event, it’s not too late. Whether it’s through prayers, monetary donations, moraling for eight hours or dancing for all 24, there are tons of opportunities still available to help support the work of HDCH. To donate money or register to participate in the event, you can visit:


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Dance Marathon- About Us

History of Dance Marathon at Hope
The first annual Dance Marathon at Hope College took place in 2000. In the inaugural year, it was expected that a school of Hope’s size would only raise $4,800. But, as a result of much hard work and dedication, the marathon brought in over $23,000 in donations for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. In the years that followed, the program has evolved to include numerous fundraising and awareness-building activities such as the Miracle Auction, the Christmas holiday party for miracle families, and most recently a Hope basketball game “for the kids” at which miracle families attend and money is raised. Student participation in the event has grown over the years, as well. Currently, more than 800 Hope students contribute to Dance Marathon as members of planning committees, or as dancers and moralers.

Children’s Miracle Network
Children’s Miracle Network is an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping children by raising funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals throughout North America. Each year, these non-profit hospitals treat 17 million children with diseases, injuries, and birth defects of every kind. Children’s Miracle Network hospitals treat all children regardless of affliction or the family’s ability to pay.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in Western Michigan dedicated to providing comprehensive care to children. It serves as a referral center for newborns, infants, children, and adolescents from 37 counties. Helen DeVos provides medical care that is generally not available at community hospitals. It is a special resource for local health care centers and hometown physicians. It receives no direct state aid and depends upon private support to expand health care programs and services.

There are several essential programs at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital that rely on philanthropy to remain available for the children and families. Some of these programs include:

  • Center for Child Protection
  • Congenital Heart Center
  • Child Life Services
  • Kidney Dialysis and Transplants
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Neonatal Intensive Care