Past, present Dance Big Red organizers anticipate fundraiser for Norton Children’s Hospital

Dance+Big+Red+is+a+student-led+fundraising+event+that+WKU+hosts+every+year+to+raise+money+for+Norton+Childrens+Hospital.+This+year+will+mark+the+eighth+fundraiser+and+will+take+place+from+6+p.m.+to+midnight+on+April+1%2C+2022.

Herald Archive

Dance Big Red is a student-led fundraising event that WKU hosts every year to raise money for Norton Children’s Hospital. This year will mark the eighth fundraiser and will take place from 6 p.m. to midnight on April 1, 2022.

Madison Carter, News Reporter

The eighth annual Dance Big Red fundraiser is set to take place Friday, April 1 from 6 p.m. to midnight in Houchens-Smith Stadium. This year’s fundraising goal is $60,000.

The event will include dancing, games, tournaments and meeting Norton Children’s Hospital families, according to the Dance Big Red website. Those that sign up, individually or with a team, fundraise prior to DBR. The total amount raised will be revealed at the event.

The money raised at the event goes to support Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, according to the Dance Big Red website. The fundraiser has raised over $400,000 for pediatric cardiovascular services and adolescent cancer care since it was conceptualized in 2014. 

Registration for the event is $20 and can be done through the Dance Big Red website.

Grant Oller, fundraising executive for DBR, got involved due to his own experience as a patient at Norton’s Children’s Hospital. 

When Oller was 16, he experienced a severe allergic reaction to an antibiotic that caused him to develop bilateral pneumonia.

“I was life flighted to Norton’s,” Oller said. “I was diagnosed with acute respiratory distress syndrome, which means that your respiratory system just kind of shuts down. I was placed on a machine called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. While I was on this machine, I was in a medically induced coma for about 31 days. That kind of allowed my lungs to heal while I was hooked up to the ECMO machine.”

One thing that makes our event super unique is that you are actually going to get to hear stories from families that have been affected by Norton Children’s Hospital. We really put the families at the center of our event. We want to support them and the hard times they are going through.”

— Tyler Beyke

Once Oller was taken off of the ECMO machine, he had to begin the recovery process, which included relearning daily tasks such as walking and eating. Oller still has some lung scarring and is required to use an inhaler once a day. 

“I’m pretty much just a normal college student, and I get to do everything that I want to do in life and it’s all because of Norton Children’s,” Oller said. “That’s the whole reason I got involved in Dance Big Red, and I am just very fortunate to be a part of something that’s very personal, but also affects a lot more people and goes toward an amazing cause.”

As fundraising executive, Oller sets up events and works to help the organization reach the fundraiser’s goal. Oller has individually raised $1,681. 

“Once business or other organizations see what we’re all about, they are ecstatic to be on board,” Oller said. “They see the families that we impact, the cause that we go towards, the hospital that we raise money for and that’s kind of what it’s all about,” Oller said.

Tyler Beyke, event operations executive, organizes the DBR schedule and coordinates events leading up to DBR that spread awareness for the fundraiser and the hospital. 

Beyke got involved with DBR when he was a sophomore in high school through Dance Little Red hosted by DBR. Beyke helped plan Dance Little Red throughout his high school career, and when he came to WKU he decided to be involved on the executive board for DBR.

“One thing that makes our event super unique is that you are actually going to get to hear stories from families that have been affected by Norton Children’s Hospital,” Beyke said. “We really put the families at the center of our event. We want to support them and the hard times they are going through.”

The kids that Norton takes care of, especially the ones in our area, are really given a part in Dance Big Red, and it’s so easy to fall in love with them.”

— Sara Davis

Along with hearing from families, the event will include dancing, games and concessions, Beyke said.

“We are going to learn a dance together,” Beyke said. “It doesn’t matter whether your dancing is amazing or not. Our slogan is that dancing saves lives.”

Sara Davis, an instructional support specialist, got involved with DBR during her junior year of college as a committee member. She enjoyed it so much she went on to join the dancer relations executive board where she helped with recruiting. 

When Davis was a newborn, she was found to have birth defects in her respiratory system and her family was financially supported by Kosair Children’s Hospital, now called Norton Children’s Hospital. 

Davis, who is working on her master’s in instructional design, still gives back to DBR through donations and attending events. 

“Norton is still huge on giving back and working with people who can’t necessarily afford everything,” Davis said. “The kids that Norton takes care of, especially the ones in our area, are really given a part in Dance Big Red, and it’s so easy to fall in love with them.”

News Reporter Madison Carter can be reached at [email protected] topper.wku.edu.