I have had the pleasure of working in the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic for almost six years as a licensed clinical social worker. I would like to say that being a proud alumnus of the University of Kentucky College of Social Work (Go CATS!) led me to this amazing opportunity to serve patients and families dealing with childhood cancer. I’m thinking it was more a case of being at the right place at the right time that led to my ability to turn my profession into my passion. I am humbled every day to walk alongside families while they are facing some of the scariest times in their lives. I am truly grateful for the perspective and appreciation of this job, this clinic, these families, and these KIDS bring to my life.  Y’all- they are simply amazing!! I hope each of you are able to leave this university and find a job that doesn’t feel quite like a job and more like where you are meant to be. That’s what this place has done for me.

While I spend a great deal of my time and effort working with patients and families as they navigate the journey that cancer has placed them on, I am also blessed to spend time working with the DanceBlue organization. Because of this, I am able to see firsthand the work that it takes for our students to lead this incredible organization. And let me tell you- it’s a ton of work! From managing the finite details of every hour at the marathon to choosing just the right song for the line dance or the very best day to have the Fall Festival for families, the tasks are endless but the energy and positivity our students bring to this work is simply unmatched.

I think there are two amazing ways I see that the DanceBlue organization impacts people. First- our families. I am certain when I share with our families about what DanceBlue is, and what our students do to make this experience just a bit easier, they cannot comprehend fully how amazing you are…until they see it. Until a patient is sitting in an infusion room with a Family Relations volunteer playing Fortnite or Don’t Break the Ice (for the hundredth time) while the parents are able to sit back and watch their child just be a kid. Until they don’t have to worry about keeping their four years old entertained for three hours while they receive their chemotherapy infusion. Until the family who has absolutely no clue how they are going to be able to afford the gas, it is going to take to drive from their hometown, three hours from our clinic, twice a week, so their child can receive the lifesaving treatment they need. Until they see these things are provided by you!

And for our clinic staff: the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dietitian, the psychosocial team, and the team of staff that it takes for this place to run. The energy the DanceBlue student volunteers provide in our clinic is unparalleled. Our team has a close relationship with our students. We are excited to see volunteers return to campus and to our clinic. You help make our job easier. You make our patients happier. Your presence makes us hear more giggling and silliness than any other time in the clinic. Your commitment to our mission and our purpose makes us feel like what we do matters; like we are making a difference.  And don’t even get me started on what it’s like around here leading up to and immediately following the marathon. The energy becomes electric!

There are no words that I can say (although clearly, I’m trying) that could possibly thank each and every DanceBlue student who has and will work tirelessly to fundraise, organize, attend countless meetings, stay up for 24 hours, and spend hours volunteering in our clinic. So let me just say THANK YOU! Thank you from every member of our clinic team. Thank you from every patient and family who walk through our clinic doors to a place that is just a bit brighter and welcoming because of YOU!

To view a sneak peek of Kara’s interview, click here: Humans of DanceBlue: Kara Gore