Being from Kentucky, I had always heard about DanceBlue, even when I was at a high school an hour away from Lexington. I knew DanceBlue was a dance marathon that lasted 24 hours, and I knew the organization had raised millions of dollars over the past 15 years, but I had no idea what the point of DanceBlue was. Why did students, faculty, and local residents feel so passionately about this organization? What did DanceBlue do for them?

In 2018, when I first stepped on campus at the University of Kentucky as a freshman, I had this fire inside me to find out what DanceBlue truly meant to those who were involved. Through my sorority, I raised enough money from generous family members and donors to be able to dance on the floor for my first year. As soon as I entered Memorial Coliseum, I finally understood the passion, the drive, and the excitement surrounding DanceBlue.

For 24 hours, over 900 students give their all to an hourly line dance, perfectly choreographed to encapsulate the optimism, determination, and the emotion DanceBlue gives to others. A series of upbeat games to promote friendly competition between Morale teams occupies the time between line dances as students vie for the sought-after Morale Cup. DanceBlue was filled with fun. It was filled with laughter. But more importantly, it was For The Kids. The money raised for DanceBlue aids in pediatric cancer research, and the funds are donated to the DanceBlue Hematology/Oncology Clinic to help children who are currently fighting this toxic battle against cancer. When the kids introduce themselves to the dancers, supporters, and audience members at DanceBlue, the crowd roars in support of their strength and courage. “We dance for you! We dance all night long!” echoes through the building as each kid sings their favorite song or busts out their best dance moves for the Talent Show. It is those little moments that make 24 hours on our feet feel like a few minutes.

DanceBlue is not just an organization. DanceBlue is a way of life.

First and foremost, DanceBlue as a whole provides hope for the kids battling cancer. Each day is one step closer to finding a cure. To winning the battle. DanceBlue inspires us to keep our hopes high and to hold on to that, hold on to hope. With hope, anything is possible. And through DanceBlue, we can be that source of hope for the kids. DanceBlue encourages students, faculty members, and supporters alike to keep raising money, to keep dancing, even when the DanceBlue Dance Marathon has passed. DanceBlue reminds us that we must live each day without any regrets, because each day is worth celebrating. Even if it’s a Monday morning, it’s raining, or it seems as though traffic is taking extra-long one afternoon. Despite the circumstances, it is another day, and we are blessed to be able to celebrate that with one another. We are blessed to get the opportunity to live life to its absolute fullest. DanceBlue reminds us to love one another. Life is too short to spend it at war with others, or yourself. Each year I have participated in DanceBlue, I’ve been reminded of how important loving one another is. Each year, we show the kids at the DanceBlue Clinic how much we love them, and the feeling of gratification is incomparable. That is the type of love we aspire to show each other.

Anyone who has experienced DanceBlue — as a dancer, an audience member, a committee member, or a donor — knows that life is not the same once DanceBlue has impacted you in some way. In our daily lives, we work towards becoming more like the people we were at DanceBlue. People filled with unconditional love, hope, and motivation to dance until the battle is won.

After dancing my freshman year, I have had the privilege to serve on the Morale Committee during my sophomore year and again for my upcoming junior year. And each year, DanceBlue has taught me more about life than anything. I have told myself that if I can become more like the person I am during DanceBlue, then I can become the best version of myself possible. DanceBlue brings out the best in each of us. The most compassionate versions of us. Let’s make that version of ourselves the everyday version. Not just during DanceBlue, but each day. At the University of Kentucky, we are incredibly blessed to experience DanceBlue not just for one weekend, but all year long. I am eternally grateful for the impact DanceBlue has made on my life.

FTK, everyday!