The summer before my freshman year of high school, I was invited to a meeting about a new student organization that a few of my friends wanted to bring to our school. When I asked them what the organization was, they said it was called DanceBlue and that I should come to the meeting to hear more about it. To make a long story short, I went to the meeting hoping to get a little bit of insight and information, but I left that meeting with an introduction to an organization that has changed my life forever for the better.
DanceBlue has played an integral role in shaping who I am today. I have had the privilege to serve in various capacities: a high school Morale Team Leader, my high school’s Fundraising Chair, a member of UK DanceBlue’s Corporate Committee, the Silent Auction Coordinator, and, this year, the Team Fundraising Coordinator. I have learned something new each year and in each role, and I consider it a privilege to be able to serve this organization.
When I first learned about DanceBlue, I was struck by how powerful the mission is. The idea of raising money to play a small role in helping children and families impacted by a disease as horrific as cancer, while participating in a dance marathon, sounded like an amazing opportunity. I immediately signed up and jumped on board to help with my high school’s mini marathon. It gives me chills (even now, as I write this) to recall the feeling of finishing my first mini marathon. I remember watching the numbers that represented our total go up at the end of the marathon and having an overwhelming sense of purpose. I felt, for the first time, that students could make a real, tangible difference, and that we did not have to wait until we graduated high school, graduated college, or started our careers. I realized that change could happen, it could happen at that moment, and it could start with us. I also realized that this could not be a one-time participation; I wanted to make DB a lifestyle.
I participated in my high school’s mini marathon for the next three years. Throughout that time, my love for DanceBlue continued to grow. When it came time to pick a college, DanceBlue played a significant role in my decision to choose UK. Senior year, I had the privilege of getting to know members of UK’s DanceBlue Committee through my high school’s mini marathon, and they encouraged me to apply for Committee as an incoming freshman. I applied, interviewed, and was fortunate enough to be offered a position on Corporate Committee. If you know me, you know I am a girl that loves a good blazer and a professional setting, so I was immediately sold on Corporate.
Corporate Committee pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way possible. I learned to contact businesses, cold-call, and ask people for donations off the cuff. It taught me how to be persistent, and to speak as a representative of a larger organization and not as an individual. Not only do these lessons help me better serve DanceBlue as an organization, but they have also helped me in other jobs, internships, and positions in which I have found myself.
Participating in my first UK marathon was incredible. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I have always been extremely proud to be a student at UK, but I don’t know if I have ever been as proud, appreciative, and grateful as I was during those 24 hours. I was inspired and awestruck by the power of 800+ students coming together for something greater than themselves, and their passion for those kids and their families kept me going through that first marathon. The second it ended, I was on the lookout for Committee applications for the next year.
I applied to be the Silent Auction Coordinator for DanceBlue 2019 because Corporate Committee felt like home, and I absolutely loved the Silent Auction. I was fortunate enough to be offered the position, and I loved planning the silent auction. It was challenging and rewarding in the best way possible. This event continues to demonstrate so much room for growth, and I am so excited to watch it continue and expand in the next few years.
This year, I have the privilege of serving as the Team Fundraising Coordinator for DanceBlue 2020. Although it was bittersweet to move away from Corporate Committee, which has been my home for the last two years, I am so excited to see DanceBlue from a different perspective. The structure and function of DanceBlue continue to amaze me. There are committees and positions to handle every situation, job, and event, and each committee works interdependently with others to ensure that everything the organization needs to expand and continue is taken care of. It is wild to me to think that students have built and designed DanceBlue. It amazes me that people my age were able to anticipate the needs of DanceBlue and the needs of the children and families it seeks to serve, as well as the means to meet those needs.
I am beyond grateful for the experience I have had with DanceBlue, and I look forward to the years to come. Not only has it shaped me personally, but it has also allowed me to look beyond myself and be apart of a community dedicated to providing support for children and their families. I have gotten to know and build relationships with some of the most inspiring and amazing people I know through DanceBlue. I am constantly amazed by the love and passion that DanceBlue Committee members, UK students, and the DanceBlue kids and their families demonstrate. I’m not sure how I got so lucky to be a part of this organization, but I am grateful every day that I am. I don’t know anyone who has an experience with DanceBlue that does not feel that it has changed them for the better. Positive forces, like DanceBlue, can and do make a difference, and I feel so fortunate to be a small part of a big change.