October 29, 2019 | Hannah Smith

Two young people talk outside next to a table with a Child Health Day sign on it.
The Child Health Day event was the first in Calvin Dance Marathon's year-long fundraising campaign.

This year’s Dance Marathon festivities are officially underway. Calvin Dance Marathon held its kick-off event earlier this month (pictured above) in honor of Child Health Day. Dance Marathon is a nationwide movement that involves college and high school students at more than 300 schools. All fundraising for Calvin’s chapter, which is in its third year, goes to support the patients and families of Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The Child Health Day event was the first in the organization’s year-long fundraising campaign. Events are held throughout the year to create student awareness, get teams signed up, and raise money toward the effort.

It all builds up to the main event on Saturday, March 7, 2020—Knight-a-thon—the eight-hour event that Erin Jones, Calvin Dance Marathon’s vice president of internal affairs, described as when students and community members “make a commitment to stand for the kids who can’t.”

“Attending Dance Marathon gave me hope to focus on the positive change that can be made when people come together in support of a cause greater than themselves,” says Calvin Dance Marathon president Eliah Anderson.

As one would expect, there’s going to be a lot of dancing. From free dance periods to line dances to a choreographed dance taught to participants in segments throughout the night. Organizers say there’s something for every kind of dancer.

More than dancing

But it’s not all dancing—there’s plenty of other activities to participate in for those who’d rather skip the dance floor but still want to get involved and make a difference. There will be stations scattered across the Hoogenboom Health and Recreation Center with other activities like making cards and crafts for children in the hospital. Attendees can play games, join the chapel service, enjoy the food, and listen to the kids from the children’s hospital share their miraculous stories.

As Anderson puts it, “Knight-a-thon is a celebration of the kids at the hospital and the hope that they inspire.” 

I attended Calvin's first ever Dance Marathon event in 2018 as a sophomore, and I was really touched by how an event could be so meaningful and fun at the same time,” she continues. “The stories of the children really spoke to my heart. Despite considerable difficulties, these kids radiated a joy for life that was contagious.”

“It’s so easy to make a difference in a child’s life—a lot of our funds go toward child life programs, which help the child’s experience at the hospital be more life giving and less about sickness,” adds Jones. “The time that [kids] spend in the hospital should not be wasted time—they are still children and should be enjoying their lives.”

Calling all Knights

The event in March will commence with the big reveal of the fundraising grand total. Last year, Calvin raised over $16,000. This year, organizers are looking to surpass that mark—there are teams already gearing up, plenty of exciting events to come (Winterim Dance, prayer nights, restaurant fundraisers, etc.), and a sponsorship from Wendy’s that will help fund incentives and awareness events.

“I am very excited to get as many people on campus involved in Dance Marathon as possible,” says Jones. “We are trying to create a culture of Dance Marathon here at Calvin, and trying to get people involved early in the year is very critical.”

Students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, families, and community members can all get involved. Sign up for Knight-a-thon online or by texting CU2020 to 51555. Registration is $10 and acts as a direct donation to the fundraising total.

“Our movement truly has something for everyone,” says Anderson. “Have fun and make a difference!”

Keep up to date on events and fundraising pushes by emailing Jones at eaj4@students.clavin.edu to join the Calvin Dance Marathon email list, liking the Calvin Dance Marathon Facebook page, or following the group on Instagram (@calvindancemarathon).

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