DanceBlue 2017 approaches the end


Students kick off the 16th hour of DanceBlue with a line dance at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky., on Sunday, February 26, 2017. Photo by Joshua Qualls | Staff

Kelsey Mattingly

With the clock winding down and only four hours to go, DanceBlue participants have one common thought keeping them on their feet: “For the Kids.”

Hundreds of dancers took their place on the floor of Memorial Coliseum to complete the line dance for the 18th time, while members of the Family Relations Committee scrambled around to keep participants excited.

Kinesiology senior Brant Cornelius, the DanceBlue Family Relations Coordinator, works with the families who benefit from the DanceBlue Clinic.

“My main role and my top priority is to serve the families and make sure they are loved and being taken care of,” Cornelius said.

The Family Relations Committee works with volunteers in the clinic as well as the Adopt-a-Family program. There are roughly 34 volunteers who come in once a week for at least an hour. Last year, the group logged almost 1,000 volunteer hours in the clinic.

For Cornelius, the months of preparation for DanceBlue are all worth it on the day of the marathon.

“It’s really icing on the cake. We work hard all year for this, but none of this is for us. It’s all for the kids,” Cornelius said.

Family Relations Committee members Will Downer, a chemical engineering senior, and Nicole Tarpoff, an integrated strategic communications senior, agreed. They both spoke passionately of their roles in Family Relations and how impactful DanceBlue has been on both of their lives.

“As I’m finishing two thirds of the way through my last DanceBlue, I’m not as sad as I necessarily thought I was going to be,” Downer said. “It’s taught me to glean joy from any experience. It’s taught me how to not only try to encourage and inspire hope in others, but to recognize the way that they’re inspiring me.”

Downer danced in four mini-marathons for DanceBlue in high school before participating in UK’s DanceBlue. He served for two years on the Morale Committee, but felt a pull to Family Relations when his roommate, Cornelius, was named the Coordinator.

“I knew his passion for DanceBlue, and the way that it expressed itself and manifested itself through him on Family Relations, I saw an opportunity to serve our kids in the clinic in a different way,” Downer said.

Tarpoff, the Clinic Activities Coordinator, is in her third year of DanceBlue and second on the Family Relations Committee.

“As everyone experiences at DanceBlue, there’s this tangible joy that just can’t be explained. And I didn’t just want to experience it — I wanted to be connected with it,” Tarpoff said.

The Family Relations Committee works to get the dancers of DanceBlue as involved with the families as possible. From Adopt-a-Family parties to writing cards and creating care packages, they go the distance to make sure the families feel loved.

For participants of DanceBlue, they hope that they are attending their final DanceBlue.

“I say I want to keep coming back and I could come back 100 years from now and I could be just as happy here watching from the stands. But I hope in 10 years I don’t have to be coming back because cancer’s gone,” Downer said.

Until that day, DanceBlue will continue fighting for a cure for the kids and serving as a beacon of hope for the Commonwealth.

“This is really the biggest day in Kentucky,” Cornelius said. “We always have hope in Kentucky, but this is the day we reignite it.”

DanceBlue never stops fighting for the kids. Preparations for DanceBlue 2018 begin promptly on Monday, Feb. 27.