All-night dancers aim to fight cancer

By John David Morgan

While many students may lose sleep this weekend from studying or late-night escapades, Zach Warriner will be exhausted from 24 hours of dancing for a cause.

Warriner, one of about 500 students participating in the 24-hour dance marathon Dance Blue, said the lack of sleep and constant movement is not easy.

“At the halfway point it’s hard to imagine finishing,” said Warriner, a biology senior.

This is the third annual DanceBlue, and Warriner’s third as well. He has participated since the event’s creation because he supports its cause — raising money for UK’s Pediatric Oncology Clinic, which treats children with cancer.

The event starts tonight at 7 at Memorial Coliseum and will end tomorrow night at 7.

“It’s an entire year of planning ended in one weekend,” said Britt Pennington, DanceBlue’s dancer programming chair and communication senior. “It’s an emotional time for all the people involved.”

DanceBlue raised $123,323 in its first year and $241,514 in its second.

With 60 organizations and around 500 dancers, this year’s DanceBlue will be the largest yet.

“The momentum is great,” Pennington said. “With each year you find that you get more support.”

The Delta Gamma sorority team began fundraising last November and has raised almost $12,000.

“It’s a contagious thing,” said Caitlin Mullen, a biology junior and Delta Gamma team participant who will be dancing for the third straight year.

“I think it combines fun and immediate rewards for what you raise money for,” she said.

Mental and physical exhaustion will set in on the DanceBlue participants as they dance through the night, into the morning and on into the next evening, but Mullen said, “24 hours is nothing compared to what these children go through on a daily basis.”

“College isn’t about living for yourself; it’s about giving back,” she said.

Warriner’s teammates on the Professional Education Preparation Program team understand the importance of what DanceBlue is doing because all of its members are pursuing careers in medicine, he said.

“You don’t realize the impact you have,” Warriner said. “To think that these 24 hours actually change their lives is really hard to imagine.”