Katy Bennett


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

Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: Dallas Buyers Club
College of Law Welcomes Trevor Potter
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Notes on Marie Menken
LNFS Presents: Edge of Tomorrow
UK Jazz Ensemble/ UK Lab Band
Earth & Environmental Science Student Open House
"Nerd Night" Exhibit and Concert
"Anne Braden: Southern Patriot" Film Screening and Discussion
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: My Neighbor Totoro
LNFS Presents: (500) Days of Summer
Men's Soccer vs. Old Dominion
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Alabama
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. South Carolina
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Rock Climbing @ Red River Gorge
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
Swing Dancing!
Dancing at Lughnasa
Cross Cultural Workshop 2014
UK Children's Hospital/Birthing Center Annual Perinatal Loss "Walk To Remember"
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Texas A&M
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Resumes and Cover Letters
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
Networking and Job Search
UK Choristers
Rock Star Professionalism Series
Stillness in Motion: The Essence of Symmetry - presented by Dr. Carl Lee, Mathematics
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Night of the Living Dead
UK Law Day
Dancing at Lughnasa
Murals of Baltimore
LNFS Presents: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Mark Berry, Guest Percussion Recital
National Depression Screening Day
LNFS Presents: Torch Song Trilogy
Dancing at Lughnasa
LNFS Presents: Shut Up and Play the Hits
LNFS Presents: Watchmen
KLJ Data Privacy Symposium
Family Weekend Check-in
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #1
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. South Carolina
Family Weekend: Derek Hughes
Dancing at Lughnasa
Kentucky Football vs. ULM
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK International Tent/ Tailgate Party
CT Surgery Symposium: Advances in the Surgical Management of Cardiothoracic Diseases:
Family Weekend Tent Party
Dancing at Lughnasa
DNT 101: A Taste of the Kentucky Doughnut Trail
Big Blue Pantry Food Drive #2
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Auburn
Sunday Lunch at Historic Spindletop Hall
Men's Soccer vs. Marshall
Job Club - Social Media and Your Career
Massage on the Go
LNFS Presents: The Last Samurai
UK Symphony Band Concert
Women's Forum Conference 2014
#TrendingTopics: Pornography vs. Morality
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: The Tree of Life
LNFS Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy
UK Wind Symphony
LNFS Presents: Princess Mononoke
LNFS Presents: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Ole Miss
Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet
Paint the Town Blue
Free Kaplan Entrance Practice Exams
4th Annual Big Blue Soccer Tournament
Men's Soccer vs. New Mexico
Swing Dancing and Costumes?
Paint the Town Blue
UK Men's Chorus and acoUstiKats
Jazz Spectacular
UK Student Pajama Party
Kentucky Volleyball vs. LSU
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Florida
Paint the Town Blue
Midterm of 2014 Fall Semester
Returning to Work and Breastfeeding
Open Access Week Kickoff Event (Webcast)
Grad School 101
Royalty Showcase
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Preparing for Law School
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week: Grad School Panel: Surviving Your 1st Year
Film & Panel Discussion: Be Like Others
Graduate and Professional School Showcase
Your Publication, Your Choice: Choosing the Right Open Access Journal
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Graduate and Professional School Prep Week
Kitty Karnival
Study Tips for Medical School
LNFS Presents: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Thank-A-Donor Day
Campus Sustainability Day
Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Information Session
Getting Into Medical School
Writing a Winning Personal Statement
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Marimbas From Hell
LNFS Presents: The Fault in Our Stars
Generation Open: Researchers' Roles in the Age of Openness
Homecoming Street Fair
LNFS Presents: Kiki's Delivery Service
LNFS Presents: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
"see blue." Day at Keeneland
Peanut Butter Drive
Pumpkin Carving Tournament
Kentucky Football vs. Mississippi State
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
UK Women's Choir and Paws and Listen
Bill Cooper Faculty Recital
What Makes You "YOU: with Brett T. Spear
UK Trumpet Ensemble
Undergraduate Research Information Session "How to Find A Mentor"
Kentucky Men's Basketball Blue/White Scrimmage
Job Club - How To Get A Job at UK: Updates on IES Applicant Tracking System
Common Reading Experience Author Lecture: Presenting Ishmael Beah
Screening of the documentary Teached
Internship Info Session
LNFS Presents: The Shining
Pinterest Party
UK Lab Safety Fair
Leadership Assessment
"see boo." Halloween Party
Society for the Promotion of Undergraduate Research (SPUR) Meeting
#UKEDTALKS: Design Thinking with Dr. John Nash
Kentucky Volleyball vs. Tennessee
Career Assessment Workshop
LNFS Presents: Lucy
Film Viewing and Discussion of The Other Boleyn Girl
LNFS Presents: Papirosen
Kentucky Women's Soccer vs. Alabama
LNFS Presents: ParaNorman
LNFS Presents: Carrie
All Hallow's Eve Concert (UK Symphony Orchestra)
Work-Life Retirement Conference

Repeats every week until Sat Nov 29 2014 except Sat Sep 20 2014, Sat Oct 18 2014.
Sat, 10/25/2014

Reset Page