Dance Blue is a 24-hour no sleeping, no sitting fundraiser to benefit the University of Kentucky’s Children’s Hospital to help fight childhood cancer. It was started over 10 years ago, and since then they have raised over 8 million dollars to fight pediatric cancer. The money raised not only goes toward cancer research, but it goes directly to the children to buy items to make them more comfortable in the hospital and to help out the families affected. One of the parts of the year-long fundraising efforts are mini-marathons, shorter DanceBlues put on by high schools and even some middle schools.
This year, Apollo High School is preparing for our third annual DanceBlue on Jan. 17, 2016 from 4-10 p.m. Up until this year, we were the only high school in Western Kentucky to host a mini-DanceBlue. Instead of 24 hours, our marathon is six hours of no sleeping, no sitting to raise money that goes directly to UK’s DanceBlue.
At UK’s and all mini-marathons, each hour during the marathon has a theme hour 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. Students at Apollo form teams of 4-6 people, create costumes for their team, and then compete in all the games throughout the night (almost like a field day for high schoolers) to earn points and a chance to win prizes donated from businesses around Owensboro.
Over the past two years, Apollo has raised over $18,000 with over $12,000 of that coming from last year alone. Our goal this year is $15,000 and with the money we’ve already raised, I feel confident we will meet and possibly exceed this goal.
Planning DanceBlue is a year-long effort with some meetings starting just a month after our marathon ends. Melissa Jarboe is a teacher at Apollo and our fearless leader who we work with every day to plan DanceBlue. We have five committees formed of entirely students at Apollo and led by a senior head chair. These committees are Fundraising, Morale, Operations, Programming, and Public Relations.
Raising money for DanceBlue is no easy task and we do this by having restaurant nights at places like Salsarita’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Fetta. We also “can” some basketball and football games at Apollo by standing at gates and walking around the stands and asking for any change or spare dollars for DanceBlue. This alone can raise over $100 each game. Our fundraising committee leads this up and goes above and beyond by driving to many local businesses and asking for donations through gift cards, food, and monetary donations. Many restaurants donate food for us to eat during the Dinner Hour during our marathon, it takes a lot to feed almost 200 hungry high schoolers who haven’t sat down in hours.
In November, our head chairs along with a few other committee members gave a presentation to Owensboro’s First Security Bank, a huge contributor to DanceBlue, about our marathon so they could learn more about the students and our efforts to plan and organize Apollo’s DanceBlue.
This year, myself and another head chair, Carley Mitchell, raised $1,100 by ourselves for DanceBlue by organizing and running a bracketed Nerf War which included 115 Apollo juniors and seniors and five faculty members. This lasted five weeks with teams facing each other each round until we ended with a winning team at the end. This not only brought our students together in a fun and competitive way, but it raised awareness for DanceBlue and many students are now registered for our marathon because of it.
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.
A new fundraising effort this year is our partnership with College View Middle School, Burns Middle School, and Sorgho Elementary School. They are hosting mini-mini DanceBlue’s which go directly towards Apollo’s DanceBlue. Our committees help run their marathons and help plan it beforehand. Sorgho hosted theirs on December 4 and raised $2,007. To see elementary schoolers jump up and down when the total was revealed was a memory none of us will forget. College View and Burns’s will be held together on January 15 and we’ve already gone to the schools and presented information and we’re continuing to help them each day.
UK knows Apollo High School as a prominent contributor to DanceBlue and they continually tell us how impressed they are with our growing numbers and recognition for only three years of participating. I will be attending the University of Kentucky next year and DanceBlue was one of the major factors for attending. In February, after our marathon, a group of us will go up to their 24-hour marathon to present our check and to get to see and experience UK’s DanceBlue for the second time. Apollo alumni at UK who are participants in their DanceBlue are proud to have graduated from a school making such a big impact for pediatric cancer research and I can’t wait to be able to join that group of people next year.
The motto of DanceBlue is “For The Kids” or FTK because everything we do is for the kids. Not for the recognition or the fun we have during the marathon, it’s for the kids. One day we will dance in celebration, but until then we will dance for a cure.