My whole life I knew I would attend the University of Kentucky. Whenever someone asked me the question, “so where you plan to go to college?” I would always instantly answer with “UK, of course.” If you would have told me when I was a high school senior school that the best thing about my undergraduate experience would be a 24-hour, no-sleeping, no-sitting dance marathon, I probably would have laughed in your face. How could it not be Kentucky basketball or football games? Little did I know coming into UK, that this crazy thing called DanceBlue would forever alter my life, changing it for the better, shaping me into the person that I am today.
I was introduced to DanceBlue my freshman year of college, when I stumbled across the last three hours of the marathon in Memorial Coliseum, to see what it was exactly my friends were doing standing for 24 hours straight. I remember sitting in awe watching the 1,000 selfless students cheering on the kids as they performed in the talent show, and then hearing Jennifer Mynear speak of Jarrett and what DanceBlue is all about. I knew in that moment that one year later I would do whatever it took to be standing on that floor.
Both my sophomore and junior year I was lucky enough to dance and be out on the floor of Memorial Coliseum. Throughout those two years I began to form a relationship with the patient and family my team danced to support. I was even blessed to grow a relationship and become a source of encouragement during her treatments when I had the opportunities to visit during her times at the clinic. I will never forget the days I spent there, and how those simple and sweet interactions changed my life. This family was kind enough to let us be with them throughout this journey, and to stand for them during the marathon. They let us into their lives and to walk alongside them through it all. Being able to directly see the little impact I was making through DanceBlue on this family is something I will never forget. The courage I saw still inspires me to this day to face difficulty and adversity. My times spent visiting in the clinic are some of my favorite memories when I think back to my DanceBlue experience.
DanceBlue continued to impact me even more my senior year of college. I was lucky enough to be on Morale Committee for my last DanceBlue. To this day I still talk about what it was like for me being on Committee and how thankful I am for that time. There are no words to describe it. I, along with 150 other selfless students, were lucky enough to put all we had into planning, coordinating and serving DanceBlue throughout the whole year leading up to and throughout the marathon. Being on committee was my favorite aspect of my undergraduate career at UK. I fully believe it shaped me into a better person. It taught me to leverage my time, my passion, my energies, my gifts to love and serve others. I will never know all the lives and stories DanceBlue affected but just being able to contribute in the small chance I had was enough to forever impact my life.
I can still picture the final hours of my last DanceBlue perfectly. Throughout all the tears shed and line-dances performed, it will be a time I will never forget. DanceBlue is truly something special. There is nothing sweeter than being able to see the kids throughout the entire marathon, during the talent show and celebration of life, and know that I somehow was lucky enough to make the smallest impact on their life and their journey with cancer. These kids have truly changed my life and I am inspired by the way in which they live their lives; full of joy and purpose. Through DanceBlue, I have witnessed first-hand the destruction cancer can bring. Yet, it does not break the joy contained in the lives of these kids.
As I continue my graduate career here at UK in the Physician Assistant Program, I hold my time with DanceBlue close to my heart. Because of the amazing and life-changing interactions I have had with these kids, I pray that one day I can serve as a physician assistant full of joy and ready to live each day, much like them, to the fullest, helping others to the best of my ability.