As a freshman at UofL I was unsure how to get involved and to what organizations I would want to give my limited free time, as a college student, to. Throughout the first few months I attended registered student organization meetings, tried new things, and got involved in one or two things but nothing seemed to fit. I remember sitting in my dorm room hyping my roommate up as she was on her way to interview for a position on raiseRED. I debated applying for a committee position but didn’t think it would be right since I did not have a personal connection to pediatric cancer or blood disorders, nor did I have a dance marathon at my high school. After my roommate got her position, I asked her if she thought I should join raiseRED and, like any person passionate about raiseRED, she excitedly told me to register, get some friends to do it with me, and request to be on her color team. So, I did just that. February 22, 2019 changed my life forever and from that moment on raiseRED had my heart.
Throughout my time with raiseRED I noticed that although I do not have a direct connection to pediatric cancer or blood disorders, cancer is all around me. If you ask anyone that participates in raiseRED why they dance each person will give you a personal reason and once I realized my main reason my passion for this organization only grew. The main reason I dance is for my Grandpa, Big Guy. This amazing and inspiring man has battled his cancer for 15 years, and I have watched him fight and seen the struggle in his eyes, even though he will tell you he is fine.
For those of you that don’t know Big Guy, throughout his fight he has continued to crack jokes, play cards, and win every game, and tell everyone how proud he is of them and all they are doing. All I want to do after he hugs me, kisses my cheek, and tells me how proud he is, is say that I am proud of him and how his fight never ceases to amaze me. The cancer he has battled for 15 years is something I hope that one day has a cure, so that so many of our loved ones do not have to endure this fight against it. As I dance and raise money for the kids, I keep his name written on my hand along with other loved ones that I know. Although my feet hurt, I am tired, and I just want to sit down at times I remember that I am blessed to be able to stand for 18 hours and dance for those that can't, including Big Guy. The pain of my feet does not come close to the pain of their treatments or the pain on the hearts of their families.
As I continue my time with raiseRED my reasons for dancing only continue to grow, but the one person who will always keep me dancing is my Big Guy. As I look back at my time with raiseRED, and as it comes to an end, I am blessed to have had this experience and I know that these will be the best memories of my college career. If you’re ever on the fence about joining an organization, take a leap of faith because you never know when you will find your fit, like I did with raiseRED.
FTK, Hannah Keenan External Projects Coordinator