It seems that there is a new cause every day that evokes compassion and warrants attention. For the students at Apollo High School, DanceBlue is more than simply a cause they believe in; it’s a mission they have undertaken with an undeniable passion. And that may be the reason they raised $68,000 last year, and have donated a total of $160,000 in the last five years to the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic at the University of Kentucky.
Although the actual DanceBlue event is just one night a year, the members of the DanceBlue committee make a year-long commitment including fundraising and event preparations spread throughout.
September is Pediatric Awareness month, and the students at AHS started the month with non-stop activities to bring attention to their cause. They kicked off September with an intramural kickball tournament and “Blitz week” last week, where different themed tables were set up each day to encourage students to have fun and donate.
For Wednesday’s AHS Fun Run, the committee partnered with the physical education department, which resulted in nearly 350 kids running the mile in almost 100-degree heat as they were sprayed by fire department hoses, and showered with flour bombs from the special education department. Thursday and Friday, AHS held the first of two blood drives this year, in which the Western Kentucky Blood Center makes a donation to the school for DanceBlue.
“We have 48 committee members. We try to spread the mission and the cause to everyone in the building so everyone can feel a part,” said Melissa Jarboe, DanceBlue sponsor.
Jarboe has been the DanceBlue sponsor for the last five years, ever since a former student returned after participating in DanceBlue at the University of Kentucky and suggested it could be successful with Jarboe’s Beta Club students.
When speaking with committee members, it’s as if you are speaking with the leaders of a small business, with each member comfortable in their designated role and passion for their cause.
AHS senior and DanceBlue head chair, Trevor Payne, said the committee is trying a new campaign this year called Go Golden. The concept is similar to that of the yard flamingos, where a campaign flag in the shape of a yellow ribbon is placed in someone’s yard and a $25 donation is required for flag removal.
“We’ve flagged over 50 houses so far and the Owensboro community has received us extremely well,” Payne said. “We are really happy with the results of that so far.”
With no annual operating budget, DanceBlue relies solely on community donations, since every penny that is raised goes directly to the University of Kentucky program.
AHS is in a partnership with UK, who does a full 24-hour dance marathon. Apollo is the first high school in western ky to do a mini-marathon, which lasts for eight hours, with each hour having a different activity or theme. Fundraising chair Grace Bush says one of her “passion projects” is conducting three-hour “micro-mini” sessions at their feeder schools where they not only have fun but explain the significance of the event to the students.
This year, Apollo’s DanceBlue will take place Jan. 20, 2019, the Sunday before the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
“Dance Blue would not be as big as it is and as impactful as it is without the support of Owensboro and the community that we have here at Apollo,” said Caroline Shutt, public relations chair. “It’s grown so much in the past few years and it’s amazing to see.”