LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 22, 2013) – Ask UK students about DanceBlue and you'll see a special spark in their eyes. Whether they have danced, fundraised, participated or not, there's something about DanceBlue that reaches to the core of each Wildcat on campus – a sense of pride that rivals that of those eight national championship banners hanging from the rafters of Rupp Arena. Tonight UK's eighth annual dance marathon kicks off at 8 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum.
“DanceBlue is our campus’ opportunity to make a huge difference for kids across Kentucky.” Ethan Ritter, 2013 DanceBlue overall chair said, "For 24 hours we stand and dance for the people who need it most. Pediatric cancer can affect anyone – regardless of their race, religion or socioeconomic status; your neighbor, your child or your best friend.”
DanceBlue is a 24-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon at the University of Kentucky to raise money for the Golden Matrix Fund. The Golden Matrix Fund benefits cancer research at the Markey Cancer Center and supports child life efforts in the newly renamed DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic.
DanceBlue originated in 2004 when a forum was led by Jennifer Mynear about the possibility of starting a dance marathon at UK. Mynear’s son, Jarrett died at the age of 13 after an 11-year battle with cancer. Leadership groups around UK's campus were inspired to recruit organizers for this new cancer campaign, and they were met with tremendous support. Organizers found a welcome home for this new event at the University of Kentucky Center for Community Outreach.
The first DanceBlue marathon took place in February 2006 with more than 30 student organizations and 180 dancers. The marathon raised $123,323.16 for the UK Pediatric Oncology Clinic. That year, DanceBlue broke all fundraising records for a first-year dance marathon event. It became the most successful student-run philanthropy event in UK’s history and has continued to grow over the years.
DanceBlue was recently named the eighth biggest college fundraiser by thebestcolleges.com. In 2012, with 80 teams and more than 700 dancers, DanceBlue was able to raise $834,424.57. Since the first marathon in 2006, DanceBlue has raised more than $3.5 million for the DanceBlue KCH Hematology Oncology Clinic. This year, DanceBlue will have 800 dancers from 75 different teams.
While many people are familiar with the actual dance marathon, few are aware of the incredible impact DanceBlue has on the clinic itself. The funding from DanceBlue has contributed to increased amounts of research as well as an increased staff size at the clinic.
In December, DanceBlue committed to a $1 million pledge over the next four years to the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. In recognition of the support, the clinic was renamed the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Hematology Oncology Clinic. The pledge includes plans for renovation of the clinic and increased research. In addition, the clinic's waiting area will be renamed the Jarrett Mynear Patient and Family Area, in memory of the former pediatric cancer patient who inspired it all.
DanceBlue provides more than just financial support to the clinic. Students on the DanceBlue committee provide hands-on involvement throughout the year. Committee members regularly visit the clinic to play with the children, organize toy areas, assist children in checking in, plan fun events throughout the year and help with emotional support.
The campus and Lexington community are encouraged and invited to participate in DanceBlue. DanceBlue officially begins at 8 p.m. tonight, Friday, Feb. 22, in Memorial Coliseum with a pep rally-like atmosphere and learning the 2013 DanceBlue line dance. Each hour of the marathon has a different theme, with coordinated music and activities.
From 4 - 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, are known as family hours. Family hours begin with a talent show featuring children from the clinic, a “Celebration of Life” hour to remember those that have lost their battle with cancer and to focus on those that are struggling now. During the last hour of the marathon, beginning at 7 p.m, the total fundraising amount will be announced and the 2013 line dance will be performed for the last time.
If you are unable to attend DanceBlue, you can watch it live online at www.danceblue.org. Give to DanceBlue here and connect with DanceBlue on Facebook at www.facebook.com/danceblue and on Twitter at twitter.com/UKDanceBlue. Share your thoughts and encouragement with the dancers by using the hash tag #DB13 and #FTK on your tweets.
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.
DanceBlue 2013 - FOR THE KIDS!