Your average marathon is no push-over, and even half-marathons are not to be taken lightly. Some runners take months to prepare.

But the Carolina for The Kids Dance Marathon represents a different kind of endurance challenge.

Starting at 7 p.m. on Friday in the Fetzer Gym, hundreds of UNC students will not sit or sleep for 24 hours in support of the families and patients in UNC Children’s Hospital.

Marissa Devine of Carolina for The Kids said the event represents a culmination of year-long efforts for families and patients at UNC Children’s. But Devine also said the marathon represents a small symbolic stand for the challenges those patients face; the long sleepless nights, and the weeks or months of emotional strain.

“This marathon is kind of symbolic of the kind of the experience of families and patients go through when they’re sick and in the hospital,” Devine said.

Each attending marathon-goer has already raised $200. Money raised by Carolina for the Kids goes to financial assistance to families struggling with payments not related to their medical bills. This can include meals, gas and critical bill payments.

Medical debt is the leading source of debt for Americans, according to a 2017 Urban Institute study, and as many as 27 percent of North Carolinians have medical debt. The median debt for North Carolina patients is over $700.

“It’s really hits home, the difference that you’re making as an undergraduate student,” Devine said days before the dance marathon. “All of us coming together have made a huge difference for so many families and that’s really special.”

UNC basketball fans in attendance won’t have to worry, event organizers will have screens set-up with Friday night’s UNC game versus Iona.