DanceBlue is a 24-hour, no sleeping, no sitting fundraiser to benefit the University of Kentucky’s Children’s Hospital to help fight childhood cancer. Since DanceBlue started on UK’s campus over 10 years ago, the annual event has raised and donated over 8 million dollars to fight pediatric cancer on three fronts: cancer research, assisting families affected by childhood cancer, and buying items to make children with cancer more comfortable in the hospital.
DanceBlue is a big deal at UK. Students have to raise $400 to even apply for admission to the dance, which is held in Memorial Coliseum, and therefore only accommodates 800 people on the dance floor.
The idea has caught on other places across the commonwealth as well. Other high schools and organizations hold “mini-DanceBlue” dance marathons and send the money on to UK’s effort.
DanceBlue comes to Owensboro
In 2014, Apollo High School was the first in western Kentucky to host a mini-DanceBlue, when an AHS grad approached Beta Club sponsor, Melissa Jarboe, with the idea.
“One of my former Beta Club members went to UK and was involved in their DanceBlue,” Jarboe said. “He came back and told me, ‘Beta Club needs to do this,’ so I brought it to the club. Thankfully, we have over 100 student members so we have the man-power, and our leadership has really taken it on.”
One of those student leaders is Sally Martin, a senior who has become an outspoken advocate for the event. She explains, “Instead of 24 hours, our mini-marathon is 6 hours of no sleeping, no sitting to raise money that goes directly to UK’s DanceBlue. Each hour during the marathon has a theme, accompanied by games that go along with the theme. Past theme hours at Apollo have been the Harry Potter Hour, Disney Hour, Rock of Ages Hour, and many more. At the top of each hour, every dancer gathers in our big gym to dance to a line dance to popular music that is created by Apollo students on our DanceBlue committee.”
In three years, Apollo’s mini-DanceBlue has grown to consist of five committees formed entirely of students led by a senior head chair: Fundraising, Morale, Operations, Programming and Public Relations.
Students at Apollo donate $25 to be able to take part in DanceBlue. Participants form teams of 4-6 people, create costumes for their team, and then compete in all the games throughout the night to earn points and a chance to win prizes donated from businesses around Owensboro.
“We’ve been very fortunate to have an incredible amount of support from the community,” Jarboe said. “First Security Bank is our biggest supporter. They present a check each year during our DanceBlue.” Many area restaurants donate food for participants to enjoy during the event, including Salsarita’s, Buffalo Wild Wings and Fetta.
Committee members also “can” basketball and football games by standing at gates and walking around the stands asking for change or spare dollars for DanceBlue. Martin says a good night will earn over $100.
“The greatest part about Apollo’s DanceBlue is the way it brings our student body together. You can see football players dancing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off,” student council members playing a game of Quidditch from Harry Potter, and so many others having fun with fellow students to raise money for pediatric cancer.”
– AHS senior, Sally Martin
Spreading the mission
Apollo has adopted “For the Kids” as their motto in sharing the cause with the community. Said Jarboe, “(Through DanceBlue), my students have learned to adopt a cause, to set goals, and to work with a variety of people to ensure the success of the event. UK DanceBlue is a student-run philanthropy and I have tried to maintain that integrity with my club of student leaders.” Those leaders, in turn, are making other student leaders, spreading the mission even further.
This year, College View Middle School, Burns Middle School, and Sorgho Elementary School are also hosting “mini-mini DanceBlues” which will be combined with Apollo’s DanceBlue totals.
AHS students met with second grade students at Sorgho to coach them on their service project and helped them make posters to promote their event. The AHS students also came to Sorgho’s mini-mini marathon for the big reveal where Sorgho presented AHS with a check for over $2,000 collected by Sorgho students.
As feeder schools into AHS, National Junior Honor Society members from College View and Burns were invited to attend the AHS mini-DanceBlue last year. This year, both schools decided to host their own events.
“We are super proud of the students who have planned this event, and we know it will be a lot of fun,” said Mendy Rue, who is a teacher, academic team coach and National Junior Honor Society sponsor at College View Middle School.
As word continues to spread, Henderson County High School is also making plans to host a mini-DanceBlue.
Sally Martin says UK recognizes Apollo High School as a prominent contributor to DanceBlue. “They continually tell us how impressed they are with our growing numbers and recognition for only three years of participating.” AHS raised $6,000 at their first DanceBlue and doubled that amount to $12,000 last year.
In February, Jarboe will lead a group of AHS students to personally deliver the money collected from all four mini-DanceBlues to UK during their DanceBlue.
The results are something to be very proud of:
$2,007 raised by Sorgho Elementary
$5,876.76 raised by College View & Burns Middle Schools
$15,852.83 raised by Apollo High School
Bringing this year’s grand total to: