Dance fundraiser boogies another night away for children

Madison Martin

Friday night and Saturday morning, hundreds of students danced the night away at the Preston Health and Activities Center into the late hours of the night. 

For 12 hours, over 300 Dance Big Red participants shimmied their way to raise more than $25,000 for Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville.

The dance fundraiser was a dream of Bardstown senior Kelli Robinson, a non-Greek who was looking for a way to join different groups, both Greek and non-Greek, to work on a common cause together. As a Child Studies major, her passion for children led to the decision to help give to the hospital.

After a successful first year, Robinson, who started and now co-chairs the event, wanted to lead a more organized approach towards accomplishing a bigger and better fundraiser, so students had the opportunity to apply to be on an executive committee.

Paducah junior Arella Jones was one such student that became an executive. She in turn helped lead a committee with two others for the operations and organization of the event. As a sister in the Kappa Delta sorority, Jones said the event attracted a lot of Greeks as well as residence halls.

“Kelli Robinson … kinda had a dream of getting this started a few years ago … ,” Jones said. “We were told it would never take off, that it would never be successful, and look at it now.”

Each participant was challenged to raise $100, although they could still join in the activities if they didn’t reach that amount.

Jones helped organize the activities carried throughout the night. Participants could join in some friendly basketball and volleyball tournaments as well as dance to the in-house DJ, among other things.

Local families helped by Kosair Children’s Hospital gave their testimonies, and participants learned a 12-minute dance that they danced at the top of every hour. Food was provided by local sponsors such as Chick-fil-A and Jimmy John’s.

“One of the families actually shared a story that helps us understand why we are doing this,” Robinson said. “…his son had had a brain tumor, and he explained to us that one of his surgeries lasted 22 hours and that that surgeon stood up for 22 hours over top of his son doing this surgery. So that’s really like, that really motivated these students to stand up for the 12 hours … ”

Later on in the night, it was time to see if the dancers had met their goal of $15,000. They nearly doubled that amount by raising over $25,500, and with more expected to come in throughout this following week.

“But I was one of the ones that revealed the number so about an hour before the reveal, they let us know how much we had raised, and it was the most humbling experience I have ever had in my life,” Jones said. “I did not ever in a million years expect that we’d get 25,000…it was just so incredible that all this hard work really paid off.”

Robinson said the most rewarding part was seeing the families from the local region come out and support the event.

“I just love to see the families happy and knowing that the college community actually cares about them and that they have a home with us,” Robinson said.

Even though Robinson will be passing on the torch to new a new executive committee and chairpersons will be found for next year’s Dance Big Red, Robinson is hoping students can continue to see the point of why they do this.

“These kids don’t get to stop fighting, these surgeons don’t get to stop operating, we don’t get to stop dancing,” Robinson said.