Dancing for charity

GVSU 'Laker-thon' to benefit Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

By Destiny Jones | 3/22/17 10:11pm

GVL / Courtesy - GVSU Dance Marathon Hailey Garlich holds up a sign on Friday, Mar. 10, 2017 for the upcoming GVSU Dance Marathon that will take place on Saturday, Mar. 25, 2017.

Grand Valley State University is partnering with Helen DeVos Children's Hospital to put on a charity dance marathon. The “Laker-thon” is a 12-hour event that will consist of dancing, other fun activities and meeting “miracle” families from Helen DeVos. 

The event organizers hope to raise $30,000. As of right now, more than 100 participants have registered, and more than $9,500 have been raised.

The Laker-thon will take place Saturday, March 25, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center Grand River Room.

“We’re going to be standing on our feet to show the families of Helen DeVos that we might not be able to cure their illness or help, but we still care about them, and we still want to help them as best as we can,” said Heather Ewing, president of the GVSU Dance Marathon organization.

Ewing said although participants don’t know the feeling or suffering of the children and families of Helen DeVos, this event could put them in their shoes a little bit.

“Us standing on our feet for 12 hours is kind of like our way of saying, ‘hey, I’m serious about this, and I want you to know that I’m not suffering where you are, but I’m still going to do something uncomfortable to kind of put myself in your shoes a little bit,’” she said.

Hannah Nyeboer, vice president of the GVSU Dance Marathon, discussed how this event came about on campus.

“In high school, Heather and I had a dance marathon, and by us both being involved in this community, we decided to bring it to Grand Valley because Grand Valley has never had one before,” Nyeboer said.

Besides wanting to bring an event like this to campus, Nyeboer also wanted to partner with Helen DeVos.

“The things that Helen DeVos are able to do for the kids with the money raised is inspiring,” she said.

Nyeboer also said she hopes participants will gain a desire to help in the community.

Devin Pierson, foundation specialist at Helen DeVos, works with the hospital and local schools with fundraising for the hospital. She is in charge of all dance marathons that take place for Helen DeVos.

“We’re already so pleased with the response that the marathon has been getting,” Pierson said. “They have already over 100 students signed up and close to $10,000 raised. For a first-year program, that’s already an accomplishment.”

Pierson thinks charity events such as this one benefit not only the individuals for whom the money is raised but also the participants.

“What’s great about dance marathon programs is that not only does it raise money for the children’s hospital, but it also gives leadership experience to the college students that are participating and running it,” Pierson said.

Ewing said she hopes attendees leave with a greater awareness of how Helen DeVos helps people in difficult situations.

“I really hope that people will get a better understanding of what it is that Helen DeVos does for families, a better understanding that there are people suffering in this community and see that they’re making a difference in these lives,” Ewing said. 

For more information about the Laker-thon, visit www.gvsu.edu/events/laker-thon/. 

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