When I first came to UK as a freshman, I saw DanceBlue everywhere. Even though I am from Kentucky, my high school unfortunately didn’t have a mini-marathon, and while I had seen some older girls from my high school post about DanceBlue, I had no idea how large it was. I could tell that it was an organization that united the entire campus, and what amazed me most was the passion the students had for the cause. I saw “FTK” almost as much as “Go Cats!” around campus. I admired how much work students put into fundraising for this cause; I could tell they were not just fundraising to get the opportunity to dance, but because they wanted to make a difference in the kids’ lives.
While I did not dance my freshman year, I volunteered for five hours during the marathon from 9 pm until 2 am and then came back for the final 3 hours for the big reveal. Every dancer had a smile on their face even at 2 am when most are in bed, and the next evening I could see the energy radiating from the marathon floor as Committee members and dancers did their final dance and revealed the total. I saw the DanceBlue kids look up to the dancers as they played games with them and thrive on the talent show stage. Those kids were not “sick children” that night, they were stars with over a thousand college students on the floor and more in the audience cheering them on. I knew the next year I wanted to dance. I wanted to join the DanceBlue community and be a part of making those kids feel special.
This past summer, DanceBlue got a new meaning for me. My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and while they thankfully found it stage 1a (the earliest it could be found), she still needed to go through six rounds of chemotherapy. This was the first time I saw cancer up close, and I witnessed the real physical and psychological stress the treatments take on a person and their family. The thought of kids going through this hurts my heart. They are too young and innocent to have to go through a treatment they don’t even fully understand. All they know is that it hurts them.
This instilled a new passion inside me. I grew to understand the bigger purpose of DanceBlue — it is to not only give the kids the marathon that makes them feel like superstars but to make the DanceBlue Clinic as “kid-friendly” and “fun” as possible. The clinic is full of games for the kids, volunteers to play with them, and even a 300-gallon fish tank. It doesn’t necessarily look like a doctor’s office, but more like a room at Disney World. The money that students work so hard to raise partially goes towards this clinic that makes the kids’ treatments more bearable and allows them to be kids, not just patients.
DanceBlue has impacted my life more than I ever thought it would when I saw those FTK signs my freshman year. I have since joined the Programming Committee for DanceBlue 2020, meaning I will be assisting in planning and running the marathon. I am excited about this opportunity to help this marathon happen so the dancers and volunteers at DB2020 can be as inspired as I was my freshman year. DanceBlue has given me a way to make a difference in the lives of these children through the marathon, the clinic, and helping to fund research to one day reach the cure. I encourage every UK student that hasn’t been involved in DanceBlue because they think it is too big, too complicated, or believe it just is not for them to give it a chance. I believe is the most passionate and impactful student organization at UK.