With the exception of a few of them, none of the nurses had ever danced competitively before. "My dancing experience is limited to what you might see at a wedding," Molly Bentley says. "So you know, I can do the Chicken Dance really well, but that's about it."
"I was actually asked not to join my school's dance team," Carol Reichel adds with a laugh.
That didn't stop Bentley, Reichel and 19 other nurses from Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato from accepting an invitation to participate in this year's Dancing with the Mankato Stars, the annual dance competition and fundraiser for the Minnesota region of the American Red Cross. It’s a good cause and an opportunity for something new. "I wanted to get to know other people in the hospital and to feel more connected to my coworkers and peers outside of my unit, and I thought this would be a good way to do that," Bentley says.
Tracy Culbertson, who oversees the blood drives at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, saw the competition as a chance to be on the other side of her work with the American Red Cross. "I was excited to also help do some fundraising for them," she says.
And fundraise they did, going out into the Mankato community and coming back with more than $10,000 in donations. "We honestly would have been happy just doing that," Culbertson says.
But there was still that dance competition. Leading up to the event, the rehearsal schedule was as varied as the departments in which the nurses work. "We were coached by local dance pro Mitzi Roberts and we didn't practice together as a whole group until the morning of the show," Reichel says. "We had 21 nurses in our group and everybody works different shifts and in different departments so our practices were, 'OK, who can make it this week?'"
The group called themselves the "Super Scrubs" and leaned on technology to help them work on their routine. "We recorded every practice so those who couldn't make it could watch the video," Bentley says. "We also used Google Docs to share maps of everyone's positions in our group and where everyone needed to be. We just had to trust that we'd eventually have a final product."
And on the evening of Saturday, Feb. 8, they did. "I don't think any of us really knew how good our dance routine was, because none of us had seen the entire thing until that night and so we were just as surprised as everyone else when we won," says Amy Hagen, a nurse practitioner. "As soon as our dance was done, the entire room erupted into applause. That sound was absolutely exhilarating. One of the judges gave us a 10 and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. This is for real.'"
As good as it felt to win and take home "Grand Champion" honors for the night, Hagen tells us it felt even better to know how much support the group had on their way to victory. "I was amazed by how many people from Mayo Clinic were there to support us," she says. "That felt really good. And they were all in the front row."
Check out the team’s routine, and then bust a move before leaving a comment below. Then use the handy social media tools atop this page to share this story with others.