“Mini Marathons can change the world.” This has been the belief of mini marathons chairs for a long time now – and I think they might be right. I remember standing at my first mini marathon, a sophomore in high school, mesmerized by the incredible energy and passion of college students involved with DanceBlue. The amount of love in my school’s basement cafeteria that night was indescribable. Little did I know how much of an impact this organization would have on my own life. And it all started with a mini marathon.

There are about forty different mini marathons that take place across the state of Kentucky each year. Each one unique, ranging from 4-12 hours full of dancing, games and the love of DanceBlue. There are so many reasons that I love mini marathons. They are a short window in time where I can dance and feel like a kid again. You get to meet new people and share the message and hope of DanceBlue. Mini marathons, just like our own marathon at UK, have never been about the money. Or the games or the line dance, for that matter. They are about spreading awareness. They are about supporting our families and kids. They are about investing in the next generation. Minis inspire leadership and service in kids all across the state. Most of all, they show people, both adults and kids, that there are things in this world to be passionate about. To fight for, to dance for, and to love.

I continue to be absolutely amazed everyday by mini marathons. Even in a time of incredible uncertainty, their passion lives on. Schools all across Kentucky have decided that school or no school, they are going to support the kids in our clinic, and I cannot express how grateful we are for that. While I miss going to mini marathons deeply, I am comforted by the fact of knowing that they love DanceBlue as much as I do.

While my love for DanceBlue started at a mini marathon, it has continued to grow and change every year I’ve had the privilege of being involved. My love for DanceBlue no longer stems solely from a desire to make a difference, or to raise money. It has grown to mean more than hope in the dark times, and more than a celebration of life. This year, more than ever before, DanceBlue means family. We may not be able to do things the way they have always been done, but there is one thing that never has to change. And that is the fact that DanceBlue gives people a place to call home. My heart was melted by a mother who spoke at the marathon this past year. She said that because of DanceBlue, there were people fighting in her corner. Fighting for her family when it seemed as if the whole world was against them. That is what DanceBlue is about. It’s about fighting for people who need it and giving a community to a college student who has felt lost ever since their parent was diagnosed with cancer. It is about inspiring kids all across Kentucky to believe in something with their whole heart. It is a home for anyone who needs it.

And I would venture to say that we all need a little bit of love this year. A little bit of a celebration. This year has and will continue to look a little different than years past, but our families are still fighting. I encourage everyone to continue supporting them in these times. Mini marathons are such an important part of this organization. Keep fundraising. Keep spreading the word, because DanceBlue wouldn’t be what it is without you. If you have any questions about having/starting a mini marathon this year, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]nceblue.org.