We are called to emulate our Creator’s relational character and DanceBlue’s Adopt-A-Family Program makes that possible in some of the most vulnerable states but also in the most fun and spirit-filled moments. Throughout the year of fundraising and raising awareness, DanceBlue’s Adopt-A-Family (AAF) Program allows students from teams all across the University of Kentucky to directly pair with families who are battling some of the most unwarranted and unfair childhood illnesses.
Many of these families expect their kids to have problems they can easily fix with a kiss on the “boo-boo” or a Band-Aid on the scuffed knee, but never anticipate combating a life-changing illness that can leave them feeling hopeless and helpless. However, in the midst of this circumstance, students in the AAF Program provide the kids and their families with a sense of hope and joy simply by playing with toys and games while they receive treatment for 5-6+ hours some days and giving them the opportunity to feel normal with friends and events that are all for them.
As the team captain of The Pink Ladies, this will be our second year getting to serve a specific family in this program and we couldn’t be more excited to spend time with our little girl as she continues to grow and fight this battle. This program fosters loving relationships that provide hope, happiness, support, and a forever playmate to a little girl who is much braver and stronger than she could ever imagine. It is absolutely heartwarming to hear a three-year-old little girl cheer “Good job, Charlie!!!” after having her port accessed like a champ, and to see her parents tirelessly and unconditionally love and comfort her when she is tired and cranky from long days in the clinic.
Our team has spent time getting to know her and her family at weekly visits in the clinic, Halloween “DanceBoo” parties, the DanceBlue Marathon, bringing Christmas/Birthday gifts, and hopefully adding a Sky Zone trip and park play-dates in the near future. It is incredible to see the transformation in her from our first introduction over a year ago, when she had lost all of her hair and wasn’t able to walk yet, to now having four springy little pigtails with a big bow and a personality bigger than she is bee-bopping around talking and repeating every word she hears.
The Adopt-A-Family Program gives DanceBlue a face, name, and personality. It means so much more than a philanthropic effort for the kids; it makes DanceBlue a relationship. A relationship where the impact is evident when you are holding a little girl looking in awe at a fish tank full of colorful “fishies” that now have the names of her entire extended family. Or when you hear a sassy toddler shouting “no” and then giggling to any game you try to play or coloring book page you try to pick out. Or when you are pushing an IV pole and toy car stroller around laps in the clinic because she wants to “go outside of the roooom!!!!”. Or in the sweet little hug around your legs as she hears the IV pump begin to beep and says “Bye-bye, I goin’ home now!”
As a senior, the most meaningful memories of my time at the University of Kentucky have come from DanceBlue and the AAF program allowing me to form a relationship, planning to provide encouragement and ease in an arduous time for a sweet kid and her family.
However, every encounter I leave feeling overwhelmingly inspired from her child-like joy. It has been the ordinary day-to-day interactions with this little girl that make DanceBlue so valuable and so cherished.