What 26 Hours of Dancing Does

$450,000. That’s a heck of a lot of money. That could buy a house (maybe if you live outside of California), more than enough cars, heck—it could pay off multiple student loans. But if you ask me, that money is going to a better cause because thousands of people are going to be affected, in fact potentially saved, by that $450,000. This past weekend on February 18 and 19, 2012, UCLA students ushered in their greatest fundraising total as they danced 26 hours for a world free of pediatric HIV/AIDS. With this sum, the Pediatric Aids Coalition has now raised over $3 million dollars in their 11 years of existence.

So where is that money going to go? Dance Marathon has prevented thousands of infants from being born with HIV through the purchase of preventative medication and they have offered support and community to children who are affected by HIV/AIDS whether they or their family members suffer from the disease. Through the generosity and compassion of so many college students who truly care, children are being saved from a disease of which they have no control over.

I have been moraling at Dance Marathon the past three years and I’m always amazed by the perfect integration of education and entertainment. While the event is non-stop fun with an abundance of costumes, endless dancing (hey, the whole point is that you can’t sit down) and an undeniable camaraderie amongst students, Dance Marathon doesn’t ignore the heart of the event—education, prevention, awareness, and acceptance for those who are affected by pediatric HIV/AIDS. Even though the cause may seem distant to some, the Pediatric Aids Coalition brings it close to home by bringing these very children to the event to dance right alongside. With over 7,000 people being infected by HIV/AIDS on a daily basis, and many of them being children, it’s crucial that we care about this cause. I’m so proud that UCLA adamantly cares; there’s no denying it as evidenced by that final total.

Another reason I’m proud? The Greek community cares more than ever. The committee is composed of many Greeks and many of the top teams were from sororities and fraternities. I have to give a shout out to my sorority, Chi Omega, for raising over $10,000. That’s absolutely exceptional. If there’s anything that makes me happy, and hopefully the rest of our campus happy, it’s knowing that community service is still alive and well at our university. More than the classes, more than the social events—UCLA is concerned about those who don’t always have a fair shot, and we stand up for them. In fact, we’ve stood up for them every year, for the past 11 years, for the 26 straight hours, without fail. And we’re not about to sit down.

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

P.S. Another reason I love Dance Marathon? Two years ago, on my birthday when I was a freshman at the event, I just happened to meet a person who is now very important to me. You never know who you might meet at an event like Dance Marathon… so if get the chance to go next year…then get up and dance!

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

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