Dance Marathon has been one of my happiest memories at UCLA by far. And while I was only a moraler this year, I found myself coming back to the event even after my shift was done. It was 26 hours of action packed fun. During that time I danced (it isn’t called “Dance Marathon” for nothing!), I heard children speak about their experiences being either infected or affected by HIV/AIDS, and I even watched a wedding proposal! Starting at the beginning and coming to the end, I have a new found respect for the cause, the people that put on the event, and the people that stand on their feet for a full 26 hours.
My hat goes off to every single dancer who stood for those long 26 hours. It is certainly no easy “feat.” Still, I was surprised when I came back for the power hour and saw how enthusiastic people were even after 25 hours of dancing. Even so, there were a lot of tears; tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of relief, and tears of camaraderie when it was all said and done. It was one of the defining moments in life that everyone treasures; when you feel a timeless bond with people and you are completely present in that moment. As we danced to “Don’t Stop Believing” before everyone finally sat down, I’ve never been more convinced that we would never stop believing.
And there is so much to believe in after witnessing such an awe-inspiring event. I have a belief in myself and my fellow students that we will continue to raise funds, create awareness, and make a difference with the platforms that we are passionate about. I believe that people will continue to step up and fight for what they believe in and that they will have a darn good time doing it. And I have a belief that because of the doctors, the technology, the families, and the people who care, children will no longer have to hear that they have AIDS.
Dance Marathon is something that you have to experience for yourself. It’s certainly not easy but it is certainly possible. While the event was going on, I kept thinking about how my friends were still on their feet. I kept waking up through the night at 2:00 am, 4:00 am, and 6:00 am and remembering that at the UCLA Ackerman Ballroom, there were 1,000 dancers that still hadn’t sat down. It’s an astounding concept and it became more inspiring with every hour.
Everyone who made the commitment to the cause made a mark. When they raised the poster cards and revealed the total of over $410,000, the room stood still for that moment in time. It was an amazing sight to witness and it was one of the many moments where I realized why people do this event year after year.
It is my goal to be a dancer at Dance Marathon before I graduate. I think it is an experience that everyone should have in some capacity, whether they are volunteering, moraling, dancing, or on the committee. Congratulations to Erin Ward and the 128 committee members, 800+ dancers, and 900+ moralers who made the event everything that it was. Don’t stop believing.