DanceBlue raises $1.7 million after the 24-hour dance marathon concludes

DanceBlue raises over a million dollars for pediatric cancer.

Maddi Dyment

As the hours wound down on the 2017 DanceBlue Marathon, the spirits in Memorial Coliseum only seemed to rise. Dancers appeared to catch their second (or twelfth) wind as they danced in-sync with the children scattered amongst them.

After the dance segment, a lull in the dancing allowed time for speakers to take the stage, addressing the crowd.

“DanceBlue has always been, and always will be for the kids,” Family Relations Chair Brant Cornelius said. “And, as I look out here today, that’s exactly what I see.”

The children and their families were then given the chance to speak to the crowd that gathered in their support. The crowd took on a somber tone while hearing the experiences of these families.

“Cancer is the worst kind of thief,” one mother explained in her speech. “It steals childhoods.”

The audience watched a video montage with photos of children who had lost their battle to cancer, paying tribute to these children and their families. Many offered themselves as shoulders to cry on for fellow dancers, coordinators, and observers, fostering a feeling of unity in the building.

But hope was not lost on the group. The strength of these patients as told through their stories spurred new spirit into the crowd.

“I earned this bald head and I earned these scars,” 22-year-old survivor and current UK student said. “I remind myself constantly: I have cancer. Cancer does not have me.”

With the marathon winding down, a respectful excitement began to grow in anticipation of the final reveal. When the cards were finally flipped, the crowd erupted as the UK 2017 DanceBlue Marathon was shown to have raised $1.7 million in support of childhood cancer.

“This event has been absolutely amazing,” former 2016 DanceBlue coordinator Erica Shipley said. “What’s so special is that the event really reflects the leadership team. They do such a great job at making the students feel a part of the event and being a shoulder to cry on for these families.”

As the dancers united for a final dance to round out another successful marathon, Shipley remained optimistic about the future of UK’s largest organized philanthropy.

“I hope UK continues to foster a source of love and unexpected hope for these families,” Shipley said. “The common phrase around Lexington is ‘Til the battle is won,’ and I know that’s how we will remain regarding these kids.”