One ballroom. Eighteen hours. Over 700 dancing students.

These are the ingredients that make up raiseRED, the University of Louisville’s largest student-run philanthropy that has raised over $4.7 million for pediatric cancer and blood disorders research and patient support since 2013.

“Fight Like a Kid” is the theme of this year’s raiseRED, which will be held Friday through Saturday, Feb. 23-24, at the Swain Student Activities Center Ballroom.

raiseRED is a dance marathon that benefits UofL’s Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology and the Norton Children’s Cancer Institute outpatient clinic. Participants raise a minimum of $200 per person to participate, with many raising even more.

“Every dollar fundraised for raiseRED goes directly to either research for pediatric oncology or to the patients themselves,” Emilia Perez, a UofL student who was diagnosed with lymphoma in high school, said. “Everything we raise is going to benefit someone personally.”

The event kicks off at 6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 23, and culminates with the big reveal of total dollars raised at the Community Celebration from 10:30 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Feb. 24.

In between, students will kick up their heels. To keep up their spirits – and help keep their eyes open – several mini-themed events are held during raiseRED. Among them are:

  • Buzz for the Cure: A long-standing raiseRED tradition, students pledge to shave their head, or do a major chop, during the dance marathon if they reach their fundraising goal.
  • Angel Hour: The people in participants’ lives who have been impacted by cancer and blood disorders are recognized and remembered. 
  • Mail Call: Letters of support from participants’ loved ones are read to cheer them on.
  • Silent Disco: The speaker system goes silent and participants wear headphones to hear and dance to music only they can hear.

It’s the cause of helping others battling cancer and giving second chances that is the core of the effort, said Sophie Doszak, a junior at UofL.

Doszak was swabbed by the Gift of Life during raiseRED in 2022 and received the call last year that she had matched with a leukemia patient. 

“I would not have donated without raiseRED,” Doszak said. “Seeing the impact that you can have on someone’s life made me wish I had gotten on the donor list a long time ago. Most of the time it takes years to finally match with someone, and I was lucky enough to match with someone and give my gift of life to someone who needed another chance at life.”

The event will be livestreamed here beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. For information and to donate, click here.