UK DanceBlue organizes 5K in support of Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Clinic


Travis Fannon

Color is thrown over runners at the DanceBlue Color Me Blue 5K on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Kentucky Kernel

Alexis Baker, Reporter

UK DanceBlue hosted the Color Me Blue 5K to support children receiving treatment at the UK DanceBlue Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Clinic on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 2 p.m.

The event surpassed its goal of 650 participants and reached its limit of 1,000. Check-in for participants began at 1 p.m. at the South Lawn behind The 90 dining venue, where runners were given wristbands and powder paint. There were students from all age ranges, as well as parents, children and dogs.

“I started planning this event right when I got this position, so last April. We’ve been working very diligently over the summer,” Grace Evans, the operations chair for DanceBlue, said. “My committee has been a very big help. The chair team (and) the clinic staff has been such a huge support (and) my advisors.”

While waiting for the race to start, the crowds were dense, and excitement was shared among peers. Runners threw paint, groups stretched and Greek Life organizations took pictures.

“I’m going to win. I’m going to win. I’m sprinting probably the first two miles, and then I’ll keep it at a light jog for the last mile,” Jack Renaker, a freshman biomedical engineering major and representative for fraternity Theta Chi, said.

The goal of the event, supporting the children in the DanceBlue clinic, brought up personal reflections about one runner’s family member’s battle with cancer.

Katie Smith, a sophomore marketing and management major, said that her cousin from Ohio was diagnosed with cancer at age 13 and had the disease two more times after that.

“That was shocking to our whole family. It was a really scary experience … Now she is 23 and she is finally clean of cancer … She is a really important person in my life, and it was hard to watch her struggle,” Smith said. “I would like to support in any way I can for kids in similar situations.”

While students said the event was a fun opportunity to come together, they had a collective sense of awareness for the overarching goal of supporting the DanceBlue clinic.

“The goal is to raise money for the DanceBlue Hematology & Oncology Clinic in Chandler Hospital to help the patients and their families with all of the expenses that occur with those types of instances,” Louis Baser, a junior nursing major and co-captain for the event’s College of Nursing’s team, said.

The attendees crowded around the start line and shortly after 2 p.m., counted down from 5, threw their paint in the air, and the race began. There was a large amount of trash left on the ground from the bags of powdered paint, but it was quickly cleaned up by event staff.

The 5K route took the runners towards the Johnson Recreation Center, around William T. Young Library and eventually back near Lewis Hall, where organizers and supporters cheered them on from the side of the path and sprayed more paint at them.

“My favorite part was them cheering us on, just being there for us and also the color,” Madison Mitchell, a junior kinesiology major, said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Finishers of the race crowded around the finish line and supported their fellow runners as the event came to a close. By the end, the finish line was crowded with runners laying on the ground and groups taking pictures.