What started out as a dance event in a young girl's driveway in 2000 has become a full-scale organization, founded by a UCF graduate, that raises thousands of dollars each year to help find a cure for diabetes by having dance groups from the Central-Florida area perform.
"Each and every year [Dancing for Diabetes] grows in such magnitude that the potential for what lies ahead is pretty amazing to think about," said Elizabeth Stein, founder and president of Dancing for Diabetes.
This year, UCF's Knights and Damsels Dance Company performed at the 14th annual Dancing for Diabetes event at Seminole High School on Saturday. Stein said the event raised around $23,000. A portion of these funds will be donated to the American Diabetes Association and another portion will be used to send kids with diabetes to diabetes camp.
"I went to UCF for my master's degree and it was great to see Knights and Damsels represent UCF with a program that means so much to the Central-Florida area," Stein said.
Junior elementary education major Adrina Burney, a dancer for Knights and Damsels Dance Company, said it felt awesome representing UCF for this cause and the event was a big success.
"It was great seeing how all the companies were exited to dance for a great cause. Seeing as we were the only college group there, it didn't matter what age we are since we were all dancing for the same cause," she said. "I felt like the whole program was a great way to raise awareness and it was one of those things where I felt like I did make a difference."
Junior advertising-public relations major Shoshanna Babitt, vice president of Knights and Damsels Dance Company, has performed for Dancing for Diabetes in the past while attending Seminole High School as part of the Dazzlers dance group. She said she enjoys continuing to be a part of the event while in college.
"Watching the show grow is great and I think it's great that [Elizabeth] is making it bigger and bigger every year," she said.
Burney said she felt a close connection to the cause as she looked at all of the dancers who were wearing Dancing for Diabetes shirts, since her father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
"When we were all wearing our shirts I was like 'Wow, this is for my dad,'" she said.
Stein said there were 658 people in attendance, and 350 dancers and volunteers.
"I was really excited for the large turnout," Burney said. "When I was on stage and the lights came on it was pretty awesome seeing how many people came out for [Dancing for Diabetes]."
Stein said the Knights and Damsels Dance Company was a fantastic addition to the show and that she would like to see a UCF group participate again in Dancing for Diabetes in the future.
"UCF is part of the fight against diabetes already with research and programs, and when we all come together for programs such as Dancing for Diabetes, what actually gets accomplished is so much greater," she said.
Babitt and Burney both said they would like to perform at Dancing for Diabetes in the future.
"Dancing at the event felt like it was more than just a performance, it was for a cause," Burney said.