COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The annual dance marathon known as BuckeyeThon returned this year with the goal to raise funds and awareness for children with cancer or pediatric illnesses at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“So, we’re just looking to raise as much money as we can this year for the kids,” said Carly Hawk, vice president of the BuckeyeThon Strategic Engagement.

Since its founding, BuckeyeThon has raised over $12 million for Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Organizers are hoping to break that record through the annual danceathon, where more than 1,000 students will participate in a 12-hour long dance party, take a short break, then dance another shift Sunday.

The event is a fully student-run philanthropy, the largest in Ohio.

“All of these funds that they’re raising is impacting the patients that we’re taking care of today, the patients that we’re taking care of in the years to come, and even patients from around the world,” said Dr. Keri Streby, assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Most important are the families who showed their support, many who’ve lost or have a young child fighting cancer.

“It’s really important for us to honor Liam and to keep his memory alive,” said Tim Varughese, who lost his son to cancer.

Varughese and his family attended in remembrance of Liam, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma when he was just a little over one year old.

When Liam passed, the family was asked to be a part of BuckeyeThon to help support and inspire others going through the same thing.

“You know we’re really grateful to the students, and everything they do to raise money and awareness for cancer,” Varughese said. “It’s really important for our kids to see the impact students can have here on campus.”

The dance marathon began at 7 p.m. and will continue until 6 a.m., at which point participants will take a three-hour break before beginning a second shift at 9 a.m. Sunday.