BOISE - In just five years, an annual dance marathon at Boise State University has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for St. Luke's Children's Hospital.
This year, the event smashed its fundraising goals and will provide an even greater level of support for local families.
Boise State is one of 300 universities and colleges across the country that hosts the dance marathon, which benefits the Children's Miracle Network.
The much-needed funds go directly to helping families through incredibly difficult times. It provides new programs, technology advancements and equipment.
It's something that Jeff and Kara Edwards know all too well. Their son, Vann, was born three months early. A tiny, fragile preemie, Vann weighed less than two pounds at birth. It was a frightening time for his mom and dad.
"We don't have any family here so, 103 days, we expanded our family essentially through the NICU, every nurse that came in was great and they made us feel at home," said Jeff.
Vann is now 8 years old, and a success story.
"We did luck out and we know that every day, we look at him and appreciate everything that he's been through and the fact that he's healthy is amazing," said Kara.
A photo of Vann now hangs at St. Luke's NICU - in the Hall of Hope.
Kara was so inspired by the nurses who cared for Vann that she decided to go to nursing school, and now works in the NICU.
"I love caring for the little babies, but to be there for the families, they are so lost and it's a hard journey to be on," she said. "I really strive to bring parents hope that it can be okay."
Students at Boise State are working to make that journey easier. The BSU Dance Marathon was held a couple of weeks ago, and featured 17-straight hours of dancing.
"We start at 3 p.m. on Friday and we dance throughout the night," said organizer Drea Burton. "We try to have at least four to five families there to speak and share their story. It's very emotional.
"If this family can go through what they have gone through, I can dance for 17 hours," she added.
Not only did the fundraiser beat its goal, it crushed it, bringing in more than $150,000. That's nearly double the $80,000 goal set prior to this year's dance marathon, and a dramatic increase from the first year's total of $5,000.
"I was speechless, everyone was speechless," said Drea "It really shows what a student body can do when they come together."
"It's amazing that college students are taking the time to raise money for our local children's hospital," said Kara. "Those students they are true heroes for the families here."
For more information on BSU Dance Marathon and how you can get involved next year, click here.