First to explain DanceBlue, I just used their website's description:
"DanceBlue is a student run philanthropy at the University of Kentucky. It is a year-long fundraising effort involving thousands of UK students, which culminates in a 24-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon on UK's campus. All of the money raised by DanceBlue goes to the Golden Matrix Fund. DanceBlue has been active for over five years, raising almost two million dollars for the UK Pediatric Oncology Clinic and Markey Cancer Center."
I joined Calvary Baptist Church's DanceBlue team early last semester and have spent the year participating in fund-raising activities; such as, Chick-fil-a night, canning during UK basketball parking. and handing out programs during football games. We prepared all year, but nothing could really prepare me for the marathon itself.
We began the evening by getting into our Morale Groups, randomly assigned groups with other students doing the marathon.My group was called Willow's Whippers, named after Whip My Hair by Willow Smith.Then we all stood up as a group and began the marathon by learning the line dance that we would perform every hour.
The first four hours were wonderful. The early hours brought visitors, such as, Coach Cal, Mitch Barnhart, the KSR crew, the dance team and football players, and of course, President Todd and Patsy. Those hours were fun, painless, and we had wonderful visitors from Calvary and wonderful food (Orange Leaf Peanut Butter frozen yogurt?!). Around two or three in the morning was the beginning of pain. It was bedtime and we didn't have many visitors for encouragement (but thanks to Squire and Bekah for visiting in the wee hours of the morning). Themed hours such as Lady Gaga hour and Rave Hour did keep things interesting though.
As the sun rose, we had Zumba hour to wake us up a bit. It was definitely the most tiring part. I got much more sweaty doing Zumba than I got during each line dance. After Zumba, I did a complete outfit change and washed my face and brushed my teeth, which helped a little, but six to seven AM was the LONGEST hour of the entire marathon. Thankfully, breakfast at seven made me feel much better, and our faithful little cheerleader, Kelly, came with coffee. I also got a couple notes during mail call that were a huge encouragment.
The day drug on and the pain got continually worse. Though the only dancing required of us was the 10-minute line dance, I was dancing constantly during the day because it was the only thing to do to keep from feeling the pain. The only things that lifted my spirits were some green tea that Robert brought me and a package from my parents.
And then, it was 3 PM. The last five hours were what DanceBlue is all about. All the kids arrived at three, as did some of my closest friends. We put extra effort into the line dance at that hour for our friends and all the strong, courageous children that were there to see us. The next hour was the children's talent show which was absolutely adorable. Children with cancer sang and danced, and a 16-year-old girl sang a beautiful Christian song that almost brought me to tears.
The Memorial Hour began at 6. The creator of DanceBlue spoke first, and I was in tears before the end of the first speaker. A mother spoke about her daughter who had a blast at DanceBlue last year, but she passed away just a few months after. A slideshow of the little girl played as the mother spoke and there weren't many dry eyes in the coliseum. These stories are why we were there. DanceBlue has helped every one of the children there, and many others aho were too sick to come. Mothers and survivors thanked DanceBlue repeatedly, and though we were devastated by Memorial Hour, our drive to keep going instantly increased.
Celebration Hour followed Memorial Hour and we spent the entire hour dancing with the children. They played uplighting music and I couldn't have been happier to be doing what I was doing. During this hour, I felt no pain at all. We danced and laughed with the kids and other teams came to join our dance circle. At the end of the hour, the total was revealed: 673, 976. 60 dollars. After a short celebration for our huge total, we did our final line dance, facing all the visitors and the cameras. After finishing the dance, every dancer sat at the same time. After sitting for a mere 10 seconds or so, we stood up and danced to celebrate finishing our marathon.
After sleeping 13 hours, I woke up still thinking about DanceBlue. Though I was in the worst pain of my life, I actually missed being there. During the marathon, I remember thinking that I would never do it again, but the last five hours made every every bit of the pain worth it. It is because of DanceBlue that the cancer center can hire more nurses and social workers for these kids that are stronger than I will ever be. We refused to take cancer sitting down, and boy, was it painful, but it was for the kids and incredibly worth it.
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, -Psalm 30:11