Alumni Spotlight: Grace Hahn Hester

By |2019-02-08T08:53:53+00:00February 8th, 2019|

The never been a dancer.

The second “4” in the “424”.

The programming committee member.

The alumni.

The advisor.

The advocate.

I stood in the crowd of several hundred people on the floor of Memorial Coliseum. It was my senior year of college at UK and I was on the programming committee for DanceBlue. On the stage was a family who had been supported and served by the Pediatric Hematology-Oncology Clinic at UK Children’s Hospital. The man on stage wore long blue jean overalls, a t-shirt, and baseball cap. The outfit and soft twange that emerged between tears was so familiar that I couldn’t hold back my own flood of emotions. This man, a father, spoke about his family, their loss, and grief. I could feel his words more than I heard them and this was the first time I realized that cancer can happen to anyone. This man was the mirror image of my father, a dairy farmer from central Kentucky, and reminded me that while no one was immune to that pain, DanceBlue’s reach was far and wide.

Nine years later I find myself again in a crowd of people on the floor of Memorial Coliseum, so pregnant that I could barely walk. Director in the Office of Student Organizations and Activities, I had transitioned from volunteering at the marathon to being responsible for the staff and students that make the organization happen. I was only a few weeks from having my son, Bobbie, and as families spoke during Memorial Hour, I sobbed. That familiar feeling of fear and distress, that this little baby still growing inside of me could one day be impacted by cancer. The realization that I could be a parent on that stage talking about my own child’s illness or death was sobering. I had never been more grateful for DanceBlue and for these student leaders in my life than during that one moment.

Whether it was cutting up hundreds of donated burritos to feed hungry dancers, coraling alumni to paint the number boards before the final reveal backstage, or getting hugged by a giant pancake during the Christian Student Fellowship breakfast hour, it has always been a privilege to serve alongside these students and families.

My favorite quote has always been the following:

“The real moment of success is not always the moment apparent to the crowd.”

  • George Bernard Shaw

This embodies the commitment of DanceBlue and the real moments of success are so much more than the numbers on that stage. These successes include feeding over 1000 people 5 times (in less than 45 minutes each time) in 24 hours, hugs between volunteers and clinic families, and that moment when you realized you’ve nailed this year’s line dance. My heart is a UK shade of blue, with a tint of yellow. FTK.