raiseRED, UofL’s annual dance marathon aimed at raising money to fight pediatric cancer, is Feb. 23 through Feb. 24. The event has raised more than $1 million throughout the past five years, and organizers are leveraging this past success and complementing fundraisers throughout the year to aim for its highest goal ever — $550,000.
RaiseRED is a registered student organization that plans events throughout the year specifically to raise money for UofL’s Pediatric Oncology and Hematology Research and Treatment Clinic. The 18-hour dance marathon event generates the most donations out of all of the events.
Though the event itself is a test of endurance, Kristen Johnson, operations director of raiseRED, says dancing is the smallest thing participants do.
“There are many other activities for participates to enjoy such as games, team competitions and listening to the stories of the kids and families affected by pediatric cancer,” she said.
The dance marathon and its many activities are planned by 20 UofL student leaders who make up the raiseRED executive board.
“The students are the ones who plan every bit of it … the students really run the show,” said Amanda James, a raiseRED adviser and assistant director of Alumni Programs.
The theme for this year’s event is space. James said dances, activities and competitions will revolve around this theme and she even expects dancers to be wearing space-inspired clothing, such as Star Wars shirts.
Though the student leaders run the show, its participants make the fundraising happen. Participants include everyone from students to alumni to members of the Louisville community. They participate either as part of a team or as an individual; the only requirement is that they raise $180 prior to the event.
Oftentimes, some of the pediatric cancer patients will also participate in the event, underscoring its very purpose.
As the dance marathon ends, all 1,000 dancers come together to perform the final line dance. At this time, the total amount raised with raiseRED throughout the year is finally revealed.
According to Johnson, the reveal is, “the best 3 seconds of the entire year.”
“It’s just really cool to see over a thousand people just collapse with joy after 18 hours,” she said.
Once the marathon concludes and all funds have been accounted for, 100 percent of the proceeds are sent to Dr. Ashok Raj, Department Chair of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, who oversees all pediatric care of cancer and blood disorders. As raiseRED’s partner, he helps determine how the funds are divided within the clinic. On average, 50 percent of the proceeds goes toward research, while the other 50 percent is sent to the treatment clinic to pay for supplies, entertainment and operations for the kids.
Along with the dance marathon, the executive board has developed other events to further support raise funds, including a singing competition, Raise Your Mic, and a UofL Welcome Week Zumba event. Most recently, raiseRED held its second Kid Prom, where kids from the treatment clinic had an opportunity to dress up and dance with raiseRED participants.
The goal of these events is to spread awareness that raiseRED is more than just an annual dance marathon, it is also a UofL tradition. More information about the event, including how to participate or donate, is available online.