LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Hundreds of University of Kentucky students cut loose at The Memorial Coliseum for their annual DanceBlue Marathon.

For its 16th year, DanceBlue announced it raised $1,430,497.39 for pediatric cancer research and treatment, at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic, bringing the history total to $19,743,656.31.

For its 16th year, DanceBlue announced it raised $1,430,497.39 for the Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic. (Danielle Miskell)

DanceBlue’s 24-hour dance marathon resumed in-person after being virtual last year.

“Pandemic can’t stop us, and even with masks we’re all very excited to be here,” Meghan West, UK College Nursing student said.

Applause and roars filled Memorial Coliseum once again with 549 dancers, 151 committee members, all coming together at the top of every hour for a choreographed line dance. The students also ran on little to no sleep, but it was no problem.

“Everything you’re doing is supporting these kids and these families,” Grace Bush, Corporate Chair, said. “This clinic doesn’t stop so these kids and these families are still going to the clinic, still going to the hospital for Kentucky children throughout this whole pandemic.”

What brings the marathon full circle for the UK students is hearing the pediatric cancer patients share their stories.

“As a nursing student, I see how our work helps the families and kids. I see how much our clinic does for the families, provides resources, toys, school specialists, so many things you would not think of,” West said.

The pediatric patients also had a chance to perform for the students as well.

“To see how much the talent show even means to them,” West said. “They’re being praised by college kids, and we’re not doing it because we have to, we’re doing it because we are truly obsessed with them.”

The marathon is a culmination of a year-long effort where the students fundraised and sought corporate sponsorships for “The Gold Matrix Fund.” The announcement of the 2022 marathon’s total came on Sunday at 8 p.m., with the ringing of a bell.

“You can see those people behind me. you can see it in their banter, see it in their smiles even under those masks, their just excited to be here, and that joy is prevailing throughout this entire marathon,” Bush said.