Something special that every dancer, committee member, or alumni shares is their love for DanceBlue. Not only do they love this organization, but many of them have gotten to share that love with their friends, sisters, husbands, or wives because DanceBlue brought them together. This valentine’s day, we are sharing alumni’s stories of the love they share thanks to DanceBlue!
John Graeber and Erica Shipley:
The best story to tell! John and I met while on committee together for DanceBlue 2014. We started getting to know each other that year through mutual friends we had on committee, but what really drew us together was our love for service (and the Cats, of course). I was the VP of Best Buddies that year, and John came to one of their interest meetings in the fall of 2013 to learn about getting his fraternity more involved. It was the first time we had officially met and felt like the perfect foundation for our friendship and soon-to-be love for each other. Fast forward and 2014, the marathon was in February, and soon after that, we started dating. Ironically, the marathon in 2015 was over Valentine’s Day weekend, which was the perfect way to spend our first marathon together as a couple. John even surprised me with a pair of sapphire earrings backstage right before we did the reveal. We danced with our friends, danced with the kids, and simply celebrated the fact that we were a part of such an incredible UK tradition. That marathon is one of our favorite memories together. To be a part of something that has such a profound impact on Kentucky kids and their families, as well as the thousands of students that were surrounding us at Memorial Coliseum is a rare experience we never take for granted! We’ve spent the last nine years living our lives together the same way we started – for the kids and ultimately, for our communities. Since graduating we’ve been proud DanceBlue supporters by supporting various teams and dancers, serving on the GMFAC, and holding 5 different fundraisers for Jarrett’s Joy Cart. We’re also so grateful that DanceBlue brought us lifelong friends – many of our bridesmaids and groomsmen are friends we met through committee! It’s incredible to be able to surround ourselves with friends like these and to have DanceBlue sewn into our friendships so vividly. We love DanceBlue more than anything in this world!
Erika Abernathy, Emily Crouch, & Meg Crouch:
I first got involved with DanceBlue in 2012 during my freshman year. I joined Morale committee for DanceBlue 2015 and was the Dancer Relations Chair for DanceBlue 2016. I loved the mission of DanceBlue, particularly the way it invests in student leaders while simultaneously creating a better experience for pediatric oncology patients and their families. After graduating from UK, I served on the Golden Matrix Advisory Council, which is the financial oversight committee for DanceBlue funds. In early 2023, I took a job in the DanceBlue Pediatric Oncology/Hematology Clinic as a Program Coordinator working directly with DanceBlue’s in-clinic programming. It’s a dream job for me, especially getting to work in small capacities with my sisters, and it is a real full-circle moment getting to work with students and patients again.
I watched how invested in DanceBlue Erika was for several years, so when I decided to attend UK, I knew I wanted to get involved too. I was hooked after my first year, and Erika’s last, when I was a dancer and applied to be on committee for the next year. From there, I joined morale committee, served as the alumni coordinator, and then as the Dancer Relations Chair my senior year. I graduated with my BSN from the College of Nursing and took my first job on the pediatrics in-patient floor at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, getting to work directly with pediatric oncology patients. It has been a huge privilege for me to be a part of these families’ experiences as a nurse and a former DanceBlue student and to see the direct impact DanceBlue has on the families it serves. I recently moved to the DanceBlue clinic as a nurse, where my love and passion for DanceBlue has continued to grow both personally and professionally!
After watching both of my sisters be involved for years, I knew I wanted to be a part of DanceBlue as soon as I got to UK. I spent my freshman year as a dancer, with Emily as my dance partner for a few of the line dances and Erika cheering us on from the stands! From there, I knew I wanted to get more involved in some capacity. So, after my first year as a dancer, I joined morale committee for the next two years before becoming Dancer Relations Chair my senior year. I loved getting to share the joy and mission of DanceBlue not only with my sisters but also with all of UK’s campus. Even during the height of the pandemic, it was so special and inspiring to work with so many students who refused to put their passion for these kids on hold. My time in DanceBlue led me into a position on the philanthropy team for Kentucky Children’s Hospital, where I get to continue working towards the best cause.
It has been such a special experience for the three of us to share our love and passion for DanceBlue and its mission over the past decade. DanceBlue is such a unique experience that can be hard to understand until you’ve done it for yourself. For us to not only have all participated in the DanceBlue marathon but to have also had so much overlap in our time serving together and in the positions we have held had been so much fun for us! Because of our connection to DanceBlue, our entire family has come to the organization too; over the past decade we’ve had various extended family members attend almost every year, and our parents usually block out the weekend to come down from Illinois for it. The fact that each of us now gets to support DanceBlue, and more importantly the kids and families, in our professional lives in such different capacities just goes to show that everyone can continue to have a role in this organization beyond college to continue the mission of fighting pediatric cancer.
Kitachon (kiki) Pimsri-Bradley and Camille Wright
Have you ever met someone and the first time you talk to them, you know they were going to be your best friend? That’s how it felt the moment Kiki and I met as graphic design coordinators. We started facetiming to work on projects together over the summer and it was SO exciting when we finally got to meet in person!! There was a moment when we both didn’t realize that the social calendar had a second tab and we were SO behind on graphics that we thought we would never get them done. But ya know what? I wouldn’t wanna be stressed out with anyone else but Kiki.
I’m not kidding when I said I came into DanceBlue knowing nobody. My partner in crime, Camille, was the second person I talked to after I got the call that I was one of the two graphic design coordinators for DB22. Camille went from a stranger to someone I absolutely cannot imagine my senior year of college without. She is one of, if not, the funniest and most genuine people I’ve ever met. Camille, if you see this, I absolutely cannot wait to see you on the balcony along with the rest of our Marketing girlies at DB23.
Although my role as graphic design coordinator ended, unfortunately for my marketing girlies, I still text them at least once a week to remind them of my Celsius addiction and that I miss them like crazy, of course. Currently, I am pursuing my Master of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and working with Penn Dance Marathon as a graduate advisor in hope of reintroducing this incredible cause to the university. Go Cats! Go Quakers! Go Kids!
Austin Hughes and Micaha Dean Hughes:
Despite being the same year and major at UK, and being involved in DanceBlue for all four years in college, we didn’t meet until spring 2014! Austin was the Technology Chair for the 2015 marathon our senior year and we met during Micaha’s interview for tech coordinator. After a few months of working together, we hit it off! Long story short, we got married in 2017 — of course, doing pieces of DanceBlue line dances during our wedding reception — and now have two beautiful daughters, one of whom has already attended a DB reveal! DanceBlue has given us so much, including a loving community on campus as college leaders, hope for the future in childhood cancer research, and lifelong friendships (some friends we have now had for more than 10 years thanks to our time in serving DanceBlue). Now during each DanceBlue marathon, we cheer on the dancers from afar from our North Carolina home and find so much joy in watching current dancers and volunteers build lifelong relationships through an organization that changes the lives of so many, including ours!