Katy Bennett

By

Why I DanceBlue: Ethan's Story

Published: Feb 20, 2013

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 20, 2013)DanceBlue 2013 is just a few days away and for many UK students, the marathon is not only a way to honor the children and families of the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic, it is a way for them to honor those that they have lost.

 

In 2008, Ethan Ritter, 2013 DanceBlue overall chair, lost his cousin Zach to cancer. Below is his first-person account of love, loss and how DanceBlue allows him to honor his cousin's memory.

 


 

We were like brothers.

 

My cousin Zachary and I grew up together - literally. His house sits right next to my parents and he and his sisters were my second set of siblings growing up. They were my best friends and fellow troublemakers. We learned to ride bikes without training wheels together and how to sneak to each other’s houses and back without our parents knowing we were gone.

 

Zach was famous for digging huge holes in his backyard; we were all famous for making snow days incredible. During my eighth grade year, my cousin Zachary was diagnosed with cancer. He was 10 years old. A lump on his lower back proved to be alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer of the soft tissues. 

 

When Zach was diagnosed with cancer, we knew things were going to change. The digging of backyard holes was suspended and his baseball glove stayed in his garage for months at a time. For three and a half years we witnessed him fight a disease over which he had no control.

 

It may have stolen his energy, but never his hope and love of life. On Aug. 1, 2008, I said goodbye to Zach for the last time. 

 

It seems like more and more we hear these types of stories. Cancer knows no boundaries, economic or social status; it can affect your child, your neighbor or your best friend.

 

Each spring, for the past seven years, DanceBlue has brought thousands of students together to dance for 24 hours, without sitting or sleeping. We come as a group of individuals, from across the state, the country and the world carrying with us our own stories and experiences. We come from different backgrounds bearing our own views and beliefs, but we stand for one cause - the kids.

 

Our campus’ yearlong efforts support cancer research at the Markey Cancer Center and social support at the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic. Throughout the year, as a part of DanceBlue’s Adopt-a-Family Program, dancers and teams become connected to the families we serve. We know their faces and names, their hopes and dreams. It is, and always will be, an absolute honor to dance for them and to be part of their story. 

 

So this week, as I begin to break in my “marathon sneakers” and get a few more donations, I remember my cousin Zach and think about kids just like him in a similar situation. I remember his thirst for life and know that so many others are thirsting just the same. I remember what it feels like to be a kid myself and prepare myself to dance without inhibition.

 

For 24 hours we dance for life, for Zach, for Kentucky, for our families, for hope and For The Kids.  

 

The eighth annual DanceBlue dance marathon kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, at Memorial Coliseum on UK's campus and concludes at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23. DanceBlue is UK’s 24 hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon that benefits the Golden Matrix Fund and the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Pediatric Oncology Clinic. Since its inception in 2006, DanceBlue has raised more than $3.5 million for pediatric cancer research and children with cancer.

 

DanceBlue is a program housed in the Center for Community Outreach. The CCO seeks to serve, connect and unite the University of Kentucky with the surrounding community in collaborative efforts to promote life-long community service. For more information about the CCO, visit getinvolved.uky.edu/cco. Connect with the CCO on Facebook here and on Twitter at twitter.com/ukcco.

 

Give to DanceBlue here and connect with DanceBlue on Facebook at www.facebook.com/danceblue and on Twitter at twitter.com/UKDanceBlue.

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Katy Bennett, katy.bennett@uky.edu, (859) 257-1909

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February
1
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Sun
2
Undergraduate Research Information Session
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
3
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tue
4
LNFS Presents: Groundhog Day
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Massage on the Go #1
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Internship Info Session
Edward Ayers, "The Incomplete War" - 2015 Bale Boone Symposium
Wed
5
LNFS Presents: Interstellar
LNFS Presents: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Thu
6
LNFS Presents: Songcatcher
LNFS Presents: Wall-E
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Fri
7
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
8
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Family Program: Everyone Collects!
Sun
9
Blitz Week for STAT and TEAM WILDCAT
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
10
Blitz Week for STAT and TEAM WILDCAT
Employer Showcase: Day 1 Technical Career Fair
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: Successful Telephone Interview/Screening Tips and How to Choose & Prep your Professional References
Live Painting Performance
Coleman Hutchison, "Variations on the Word 'Dixie': Civil War Cultural Memory and a Song of the South" - 2015 Bale Boone Symposium
Love Letters for Seniors
Tue
11
Blitz Week for STAT and TEAM WILDCAT
Live Painting Performance
LNFS Presents: Caddyshack
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Employer Showcase: Day 2 Non-Technical Career Fair
Last Day to Drop a Course with 50% Refund
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Darwin Lecture Series
Wildcat Wednesday
#TrendingTopics: Space Exploration
Wed
12
Blitz Week for STAT and TEAM WILDCAT
Live Painting Performance
LNFS Presents: Taxi Driver
LNFS Presents: Gone Girl
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Legal Planning
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
"Fix Society" Leelah's Law
David Blight, "When Did the American Civil War End?" - 2015 Bale Boone Symposium
Thu
13
Blitz Week for STAT and TEAM WILDCAT
Live Painting Performance
LNFS Presents: The Great Gatsby
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Candlelight Vigil for Chapel Hill Victims
Placing Modern Moonshine in America: Exploring Appalachia’s Role
ASA Photography Project
Fri
14
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Artist Talk
Sat
15
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
CIFA X CSSA Chinese Basketball Tournament
Film Screening: 2 States
Sun
16
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Awards, Reception, & Mixer
Mon
17
LNFS Presents: Dear White People
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Party Gras
CatWatch Party #2
Tue
18
Caregiver Support Group
LNFS Presents: Wreck-It Ralph
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Wed
19
LNFS Presents: Nightcrawler
LNFS Presents: Ip Man
Celebration at UK vs Texas A & M Women’s Basketball Game, Memorial Coliseum
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Depression Screening Day
Celebration at UK vs Texas A & M Women’s Basketball Game
Thu
20
LNFS Presents: The Bang Bang Club
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Curator Tour
Fri
21
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Celebration at UK vs Auburn Men’s Basketball Game
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Cross Cultural Workshop
Cross Cultural Workshop
Life After UK Conference
Spring Comedian: Jim Gaffigan
Sat
22
Cross Cultural Workshop
Cross Cultural Workshop
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
23
Graduate & Professional School Prep
Convocation
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Graduate School & Professional School Prep
Behind the Lens: Beau Willimon
Mon
24
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: Interview Strategies from the Other Side of the Table
Graduate School & Professional School Prep: Getting into Medical School
Cuba-U.S. Relations: a panel discussion
Pinterest Party #2
CRE and CCO Speaker: Laura Simms
Tue
25
LNFS Presents: Inception
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Fellows Founders Week Luncheon
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Graduate & Professional School Prep: Explaining Graduate School Tests
Graduate & Professional School Prep: Write a Winning Personal Statement
Wed
26
LNFS Presents: The Birds
LNFS Presents: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 1
Guest Lecture: President Emeritus Mark Yudof of the University of California – Berkley
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Astronaut Dr Story Musgrave
Graduate & Professional School Prep: Graduate School 101
80's Night
African Dance Night
African Dance Night
Thu
27
LNFS Presents: Superbad
LNFS Presents: Little Shop of Horrors
Cultural Coffee Hour
The Blue Tie Bash
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture: Tanya Habjouqa
Fri
28
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Stay Warm with Swing Dancing
Sat
Feb 26
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