[Moderated by Matt Jones]
This weekend has certainly been a humbling one. You know, sometimes we need a reminder here and there that there are things in life larger than ourselves, our problems, and, dare I say, our passion for Kentucky basketball. With the devastation seen across much of the state due to severe weather on Friday, Kentuckians and citizens from surrounding states learned this lesson in ways that no human being should ever have to experience. It was a heartbreaking day across this portion of the country, to say the very least.
While people across the Bluegrass were preparing for some of the worst storms in recent memory, University of Kentucky students were preparing to do some damage of their own. I’m proud to announce that, with the help of countless sponsors and donors, and through the hard work of organizers, volunteers, and nearly 700 dancers, UK took a real stab at cancer on Saturday.
If you haven’t heard. DanceBlue is a student-run, 24-hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon to raise awareness and funds in the fight against pediatric cancer. Although, due to the aforementioned weather, DanceBlue 2012 was forced to cut its duration in half, the spirit and intensity in Memorial Coliseum from 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening were at record levels, as was this year’s contribution to the cause. DanceBlue 2012 raised $834,425. As a dancer in the marathon, I can tell you first-hand that this is a special program that means absolutely everything to the UK Pediatric Oncology clinic, the families affected by childhood cancer, and the people who sacrifice their time and sleep cycles to stand in support of these amazing kids.
I could tell you about all the wonderfully put together themed hours that this year’s marathon featured. I could talk about all the awesome free food. I could go on and on about the people who dropped in to show support, including the #1 team in the land. But, you know, the great thing about DanceBlue is that none of that really seems all that important. What do matter are the families in attendance, the kids having the times of their lives, the celebration of victory and the remembrance of those lost in the battle. We try to make this fact very clear at Danceblue, where our rally cry is “FTK” (For The Kids)!
So, yeah, this weekend was emotionally and physically taxing in many ways. UK’s projected path to the SEC Championship no longer reigned as the biggest concern on my mind. And, while you still won’t find a bigger Cats fan, I was better for it. There are too many people who need my efforts, too many problems that I can help solve, too many kids worth dancing a day away for, to spend that time pouring over game highlights and team stats for fun.
Picture from Sabrina Hounshell, DanceBlue 2012
I’m proud to call myself a part of this university. I’m proud that DanceBlue is the largest student-run philanthropy event in the SEC. I’m proud that we are the fastest growing dance marathon in the nation. Most of all, I’m proud that the University of Kentucky came together—male and female, Greek and non-Greek, freshmen and senior, from every race, religion, major, and background—to demonstrate just how much the Big Blue Nation cares. The financial and emotional support that DanceBlue provides for the children treated in UK Children’s Hospital ensures that these kids and their families will receive the best care possible. As one mother put it, “Because of DanceBlue, UK’s pediatric cancer staff and treatment is second to none.” I don’t know about you, but I think a title like that might just be more banner-worthy than any that could be won on the hardwood.
Now and always, FTK.
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