When the University of Kentucky’s ninth annual 24–hour, no–sitting, no–sleeping student–led, all–volunteer dance marathon concluded this year, a record $1,436,606.24 was raised to benefit Kentucky families who are dealing with a diagnosis of childhood cancer, and to aid cancer research at the Markey Cancer Center. An audience of several thousand cheered as the grand total raised was revealed at the conclusion of the marathon held in Memorial Coliseum.
More than 800 student dancers in over 100 UK student organizations earned the right to dance at the marathon. These volunteers were supported by more than 5,000 donors who pledged financial gifts based on the participation of individual dancers. Local businesses, foundations and corporations also made outright gifts.
This year’s dance marathon included a family talent show featuring children from the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Clinic. There was also a memorial hour during the marathon to remember those who lost their battle with cancer.
“DanceBlue focuses on Kentucky families who are dealing with the challenges of childhood cancer,” notes DanceBlue co–founder and UK Director of Fundraising Programs, Susannah Denomme ’78 ’81 ’83. “It also provides UK students with an opportunity to get involved and make a difference through volunteerism and philanthropy. Our student volunteers are committed to helping children with this disease and their families while also assisting those who are searching for a cure.”
“The dancers and hundreds of other students who help behind the scenes often say their participation in DanceBlue is life–changing,” Denomme continues. “It’s always uplifting to see college students stretch beyond themselves, reach out to help others in extraordinary ways, and come together to accomplish something that is truly remarkable.”
Claci Ayers ’14, DanceBlue 2014 Overall Chair, relates, “Over a year ago, I said to myself, ‘If there is one thing on this campus I could dedicate all my time to, it would be DanceBlue.’ Early mornings, late nights and lots of hard work have all been worth it.”
UK President Eli Capilouto and his wife Dr. Mary Lynne Capilouto joined the students in the line dance which was performed regularly throughout the marathon.
DanceBlue began in 2006 by raising $123,323.16 in the first marathon. The amount given has risen substantially each successive year, and all totaled, DanceBlue has now generated more than $6.5 million.