UK students get low to raise money at 13th annual DanceBlue marathon

Published: Feb. 18, 2018 at 2:08 PM EST
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Students at the University of Kentucky spent the weekend raising money for local children who are battling cancer, at the 13th annual DanceBlue marathon.

Every hour, for 24 hours straight, participants performed a 12-minute choreographed dance routine. The event began at 8 p.m. Saturday, and by Sunday morning many students were exhausted.

UK senior Kelsey Griffin has danced at the marathon since she was a freshman. Serving on the morale committee, Griffin helped students learn dance moves and stay hyped as fatigue set it.

"It's really just remembering why I am here. Stories of hope and just better outcomes for the patients," explained Griffin.

UK junior Bradley Wilson is one of those examples, as a two-time Leukemia survivor who now serves as the chair of the marathon's family relations committee.

Diagnosed at 13 years old, Wilson has a deeply personal understanding of the marathon's mission. "For part of my treatment, I was treated here at the DanceBlue clinic," he said.

Wilson has been cancer free for the last two years now, which gave him the strength and energy needed to bust a move on Sunday. He says the marathon sends an important message to local children currently battling cancer.

"You matter. Your story is one that is significant and your life is one that is significant," he said.

As always, the DanceBlue marathon had two rules. For 24 hours, no sleeping or sitting was allowed.

The physically demanding event skyrocketed Fitbit step counts for many participants.

"We are currently at 34,063," said dancer Liv Hagan half-way through the marathon. "Yeah, [my feet] are feeling it, but we are doing good," she said. Hagan typically averages 9,000 steps in a day."

The can-do attitude of DanceBlue participants has helped them raise more than $11.6 million for pediatric cancer treatment and research since the first marathon back in 2006.

Wilson says a positive outlook is important during any challenging time, be it cancer treatments or dance marathons.

"In both cases I'd say it's all about attitude. It's a very mental game. I think a lot of the treatment that you get for cancer, is so much harder than what we're doing," said Wilson.

Danceblue announced on Sunday evening it raised a total of $1,804,068.77 for children battling cancer. All of the money will go to benefit the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic.