Who knew a video of hospital staffers busting a move to Jay Sean's "Down" could also be a bit of a tear-jerker?
Take a closer look at those exuberant dancers, caught up in celebratory camaraderie, and you'll see all of them are clad in pink gloves. It's one of a few fun criteria for the Pink Glove Dance contest, Medline Medical Supplies' annual initiative to raise breast cancer awareness.
What started in 2009 as an outreach video starring more than 200 employees at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center in Portland, Ore., has become a national contest that last year brought in 139 entries from hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other organizations in the U.S. and Canada.
The rules are simple: gather some dancers, hand out pink Medline medical gloves, and get groovin'.
This year, more than 400 staffers from New London's Lawrence & Memorial Hospital have joined the fray. Sixteen of those dancers are breast cancer survivors. Their song? Cascada's "Evacuate the Dancefloor," one of six officially licensed song options for this year's contest.
According to hospital Director of Public Relations Michael O'Farrell, it didn't take much wrangling to get staffers to join in after L&M employees Diane Pezzolesi and Sandy Calabro brought the idea to the hospital community.
"The excitement level among staff was just great," he says. "People were genuinely excited to participate."
As it turns out, Sue Greenleaf, L&M's director of organizational and leadership development, has a background in dance, which made her an easy choice for head choreographer.
Greenleaf's vision is that of a riotous, joyful party. The video opens with a bathing beauty on the beach, who cranks up the volume on a vintage radio. Enter Cascada.
What follows is an extravaganza of dance mixed with a healthy dose of comedy, representing more than 35 hospital departments (plus three patients and at least one dog). Crutches, monitors and other hospital furniture become dance partners and props, peppered in pink decor.
One particular highlight is a troupe of four gents in office-chic pink who pull off a mean Robot/Lawn-Mower combo. They appear at the 2:15 mark.
What looks like an effortless fiesta took four days to shoot on three locations: L&M's main campus, Pequot Health Center in Groton; and the L&M beach on Pequot Avenue. Joel Bergeron of Old Mystic was the man behind the camera with assistance from Trish LaPointe, Greenleaf and speech pathologist Christa Rosado, who also had a hand in the choreography.
Though he doesn't appear in the video, ad hoc executive producer O'Farrell says his colleagues' enthusiasm was infectious, so to speak.
"The best part about this was seeing the energy, passion and enthusiasm from the staff come to life - all for what is a great cause," he says. "In the midst of busy days and schedules, we came together for a cause - to find a cure. And we did it with such enthusiasm, with such camaraderie, with such fun."
Now for the hard part, which is garnering enough votes to win the $10,000 grand prize, bound for the charity of the winners' choice. Second prize is $5,000 and third is $2,000. L&M has selected the Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation for two reasons: all proceeds to TBBCF go straight to research and Brodeur herself was born at L&M.
Voting is open until Nov. 2 at pinkglovedance.com/competition/vote, where viewers also will find loads of other information about the contest, including a link to the original Pink Glove Dance (which has logged more than 13 million views). Contestants are listed in alphabetical order.
Competition is stiff, but O'Farrell isn't worried.
"We've got a battle ahead of us, but we're ready for it," he states. "We didn't enter this contest just for fun!"