Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dancing for those who can't.

I know that all of my friends know all about DanceBlue as does everyone at UK, but I have family members keeping up with my blog that are waiting to hear all about it, so instead of making several phone calls, I figured I would just give the entire play-by-play of my experience.
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.

My morale group at the end of the marathon (We won the Morale Cup!)

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, -Psalm 30:11

Monday, July 5, 2010

I want to ride my bicycle...

...I want to ride it where I like.

Last year, I wrote this post. Now here we are, nine months later, and I have a bicycle. As it turns out, Con #6 (the most significant con) turned out to be very insignificant. That is because my bike was free.

After months of wishful thinking about owning a bike and several weeks of actually searching for a bike, my dad suddenly remembered that a Murray cruiser had been collecting dust in my grandmother's garage. We immediately went to check it out, and now I am the proud owner of that Murray cruiser.

So here he is...

Big thanks to my generous grandma for providing me with a free bicycle.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer literature

Before my tonsillectomy, I made a trip to Half-Price Books and Borders to acquire some reading material for the recovery period. My book collection is much too large to begin with and I buy a lot of books that I don't end up reading, but I have a plan this summer. I am going to create a reading list and stick with it. My list will include the many books that been accumulating dust on the shelves, yearning for a young lady such as myself to read them. Then, at the end of the summer, I will collect a bunch of my old books and sell them to Half-Price Books.

Books will be read. Money will be made. It's gonna be great.

Here's the reading list (or a draft of it):
1. Through Painted Deserts (or finish it...I have read half)
2. Jesus for President
3. Wuthering Heights
4. The Alchemist
5. Love in the Time of Cholera
6 . The Unlikely Disciple
7. The Choice
8. Water for Elephants
9. Radical
10. The Shack
11. Mere Christianity
12. Traveling Mercies
13. Jesus Wants to Save Christians
14. Good Chuck Palahniuk novels (I'm taking suggestions here because I've heard some of his books aren't as good as other)
15. The Stieg Larsson novels
16. Reason for God
17. Same Kind of Different as Me
18. The Reader

We'll see where it goes from here. I'm open to opinions and suggestions.

EDIT: I forgot a few. Added three more. Also, I won't be able to finish these this summer. Starting July 12, I'm taking an ENG class at UK, so I don't have have much time left for pleasure reading. So this list will be ongoing for quite a while.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Naminala, Guereo.

I miss Africa. So much. Some days are good and I have enjoyed many things that I missed about America, such as coffee, salad, grass, my bed, Target, etc. Other days I think about Guereo 24/7. It's so difficult being away from our house and family there, the BCM team, all the children (especially Lil Mama, Ada, Hadi & Abi, and Nyaga). I went to World Market yesterday with my mom and searched everywhere in the grocery section for Biskrem or Ananas soda, but had no luck. But every time I saw something that reminded me of Africa, my heart ached. Living in Kentucky when part of my heart is half a world away sucks sometimes.

After I recover from my tonsillectomy, I plan on writing the long summary/what I learned in Africa blog that I've been avoiding.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yes, you are our glory and our joy!

It is hard to believe that my trip is more than halfway over. The family we are living with has become our Senegalese family and it will be really sad to leave them. My favorite part of the day is after dinner when we sit and drink soda, talk, dance, and sing with the family. Yesterday they said that we were Senegalese now, and my heart melted.

Ive experienced so much these last few days that I have no idea how to sum it up. I am seeing God in so many new ways. Some cool things that happened since my last post:
-I held a newborn at the medical clinic.
-Went to a Senegalese wedding (and took a picture with the bride)
-Went to the elementary school and taught some English
-Had our own church service on the roof
-Learned some Senegalese songs
-Went to the river and had amazing prayer time and relaxation
-I may or may not have gotten married on the beach.
-Had Mambaye record me, Bekah, and Kait singing Come Thou Fount
-talked about Yessu

We have had some amazing, sacred moments here. We have friends here asking many questions about what it means to follow Jesus. Keep praying for us, as well as the people of Guereo.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Amazing Grace

My encounters in Senegal never cease to amaze me. Yesterday when I was beginning to feel tired and hot, we sang Amazing Grace as we walked and I felt instantly uplifted. Chi kanum (later), we took about 50 kids to the beach, and had a blast. The little girls loved burying me in sand and putting my hair in lettes (braids). There are so many amazing details to write about, but French keyboards are confusing and Babakar is waiting to use it. Hopefully we will make more visits to the internet cafe in the next week.

Ba Chi Kanum.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Greetings from Guereo!

My heart is so full right now. I have been in the village for two days, and I am in love with this place. The night sky is gorgeous, not anything like the sky we see in Amerik (America). I love the people here so much, especially the entourage of children that follow us wherever we go, but it is so sad that they dont know Yessu (Jesus). Even so, seeing these kids light up when we smile at them and hold their hand is the most satisfying thing in the world. Baay, Yaay, Hadi, and the rest of the family has been so hospitable to us. They are constantly trying to serve us, even when we are content. I love the coffee, tea, and soda here and the food is pretty nexxna (good), too. I dont even have words to express how much I love this place. Hopefully I will have another day of computer access to update again.

Ba beneen yon.