Participating in DanceBlue for the first time is life changing

University of Kentucky students participate in the DanceBlue line dance on Sunday, February 18, 2018 at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. DanceBlue is a philanthropic event where students dance for 24 hours straight to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Photo by Arden Barnes | Staff

Emily Scott

In the beginning, DanceBlue is easy.

It’s sociable and entertaining, and there are so many people you have the opportunity to meet. There’s food everywhere, a photo op around each corner and the most adorable fan club of children from the UK pediatric cancer center cheering on your every step. You almost forget you’re on your feet and the time seems to fly. You learn the line dance, and you hope it stays this simple.

Around 3 a.m., however, I realized it may not be quite that easy. My joints started to ache and I could feel my pulse in my feet, each beat gaining strength as I moved.

“I know this is what I signed up for,” I thought to myself. “This is just a small price to pay. Think of the children who feel pain and suffer every day much more seriously than this.”

Keeping that mentality was difficult, and I would be lying if I said I remained this positive throughout the whole marathon, particularly during the last four hours, when the pain in my feet and legs increased. There were even times I considered walking out that door. Luckily, though, I had an incredible group of friends and family members rooting for me. They knew that I would come to treasure the experience, so they encouraged me to press on.

The final hour of the marathon is when families of children affected by cancer visit and address the dancers, expressing their gratitude and sharing personal stories of the impact of DanceBlue. Despite the roller coaster of pain and emotion that had cycled through me during the past 23 hours, hearing the testimonies of these families made me realize the difference I was making. I now was a part of the DanceBlue family and tradition, a cultural element that has come to define UK and the fight against pediatric cancer.

My first experience participating in the no-sitting, no-sleeping 24-hour dance marathon was life changing. Despite initial apprehensions and exhaustion, knowing I was contributing to the fight against pediatric cancer was a feeling I will never forget.