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HOUSTON -- High school students from all over southeast Texas were recently invited to a seven-hour dance marathon party.

The Horstmann Williams Dance Marathon took place at the historic Masonic Lodge on Montrose. These marathon dances take place at colleges all the time but this may be the first high school dance marathon in Texas.

Jennifer Tuggle Hinze, a senior honors student at Kempner High School, organized the event because she wanted to raise money for Texas Children s Hospital and to raise awareness about Children s Miracle Network. Tickets to the dance cost $15 each and the money raised would benefit sick children.

Children s Miracle Network hospitals exist across the nation to provide medical care to all children, regardless of their ability to pay, Tuggle Hinze said. They also, like, the volunteers, they provide teddy bears and coloring books and things because your stay when you re at the hospital is just so dull and monotonous and so it s nice to have some cheer in life.

She should know. The teen has been in and out of hospitals since she was born. Because her birth was premature, she s had problems with her gallbladder, ovaries and immune system, among other things.

A lot of times I ll make plans with friends and because I have auto-immune issues, I just won t be able to function, she said.

Despite the health issues, Tuggle Hinze is on a mission.

She s amazing. Full of energy and that s what it takes to do this, said Jennifer Smart, TCH manager development.

Tuggle Hinze did not reach her goal of raising $30,000. The expected amount from ticket sales and donations total about $7,000, but money isn t everything.

It means a lot to the children who come to us and it means a lot to me personally as the manager of the program and I think Texas Children s is fortunate to have people, friends in the community like Jennifer, Smart said.

Tuggle Hinze is off to Texas A&M next year but she is already working to make sure this first benefit dance won t be the last.

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