UK DanceBlue raises over $1.6 million at annual dance marathon


DanceBlue chairs reveal that DanceBlue raised $1,650,857.26 during the 2023 DanceBlue Marathon on Sunday, March 26, 2023, at the Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

Alexis Baker, Staff Reporter

UK DanceBlue hosted its annual 24-hour, no sleeping or sitting dance marathon this weekend, which raised $1,650,857.26 for the DanceBlue Hematology & Oncology Clinic at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. 

Dancers covered the floor of Memorial Coliseum from 8 p.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. Sunday.

The DanceBlue staff planned the marathon with themed hours, line dancing, games and other stations, such as “The Snack Shack” and “Hydration Station,” to keep dancers nourished throughout the event.

“I definitely think they’re encouraging you to stay hydrated, eating a lot. We get fed every three hours,” Mia Provenzanol, a sophomore marketing, management and economics major, said. 

A distinctive themed hour from the marathon was “Rave Hour.” Organizers gave dancers light sticks provided by the UK Student Activities Board at 4 a.m. Sunday to kick off “Rave Hour,” as a DJ provided music for the crowd. 

According to Janie Gleaves, the programming chair for DanceBlue, her team chose the themes and activities for each hour. The themes served as a way to keep dancers entertained. 

“One that we have every year is our Rave Hour. That is 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., and it is just when you’re starting to hit the first wall,” Gleaves said. “It’s a really great opportunity to change the dynamic of the marathon and get people started really strong on the back half of the really tough part.”

The DanceBlue staff accommodated dancers, along with alumni, friends and family.

Lauren Grant, the community relations chair for DanceBlue, worked directly with alumni for the event. Grant said the alumni had a reception with breakfast and got to participate on the floor for an hour. 

“I think they just love to come back and see how much it’s grown because we always say DanceBlue stands on the shoulders of giants and just to know that their legacy is being carried on,” Grant said.

Dancers were entertained throughout the day with a space to socialize. There was a collective feeling of support for DanceBlue’s goal. 

Andy Tindell, a freshman social work major and member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, said  his fraternity encouraged members to get involved with DanceBlue. 

“These kids need something to look forward to. It’s heartwarming. Doing anything I can to help them. I was really pushed to do anything I could with DanceBlue,” Tindell said.

In the last few hours of the event, DanceBlue hosted a talent show consisting of acts by patients of the DanceBlue Hematology & Oncology Clinic at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. 

Soon after concluding the event, the DanceBlue staff revealed the fundraising total number by number.

The crowd erupted in cheers. 

“It’s really great for the community of our school to see all of these people come out and dedicate their time and money to such a worthy cause,” Molly Berthiaume, a senior nursing major, said.

According to a press kit given to media outlets covering the marathon, DanceBlue has raised more than $19.2 million during its 16 years of operation. DanceBlue raises funds throughout the year through mini-marathons, restaurant fundraising events and an annual 5K

Lexington Christian Academy donated $63,945 to DanceBlue, which was the largest “mini marathon” donation. 

In total, local schools donated $408,073.11, which they raised through mini marathons. 

The press kit said the money is donated directly to the “Golden Matrix Fund,” which benefits the children at the DanceBlue Clinic. 

The fund helps support patients and families by funding gas, food and housing expenses and by providing life and school intervention. The fund also funds cancer research at the Markey Cancer Center, the press kit said.