2018 Dance Marathon Top Fundraiser Trip to Tanzania: Part 1
Emma Paine, 2018 Dance Marathon Top Fundraiser
Hey y’all! My name is Emma Paine, and I’m the winner of the 2018 Up 4 The Fight Trip to Africa! This week, I will be accompanying the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) team to visit their sites in Tanzania. I consider myself very lucky to have been granted this opportunity, and I cannot wait to witness firsthand the global impact of EGPAF’s efforts to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS. I’d love to share a bit about my experience working with EGPAF’s cause.
I just finished my freshman year at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where I’m studying to earn a degree in Psychobiology with a minor in French. My junior year in high school, I took a tour of the UCLA campus. During the tour, our guide told us about one of UCLA’s most popular organizations, the Pediatric AIDS Coalition (PAC). Since middle school, I’ve been passionate about serving others and have been interested in global health, so PAC’s mission really stood out to me. Already eager to get involved in the cause, I wrote down the organization’s name on the back of a campus map and hung on to it. Two years later, I became a student at UCLA and a proud member of PAC. This past year, I was a part of the Fundraising Committee. I will be serving as the Director of the Fundraising Committee for the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year.
The Pediatric AIDS Coalition is the largest student-run philanthropic organization on the West Coast, comprised of about 150 students of all ages and backgrounds. Our mission, like EGPAF’s, is to help end mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS and to eventually achieve an AIDS-free generation. PAC strives to spread awareness and educate our community about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in hopes of reducing the stigma that surrounds this disease. Throughout the year, we hand out flyers on campus and host events in the main plaza and on the residential hill. We reach the greater LA community by speaking at local high-schools, partnering with corporations, and stationing ourselves at public venues like farmers markets and piers. Additionally, the Pediatric AIDS Coalition is dedicated to fundraising money for HIV/AIDS research and treatment. The donations we receive also fund programs like mentorships and camps that support people, specifically children, that are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. In its existence, PAC has raised about 5 million dollars in support of our wonderful beneficiaries, including EGPAF. If you’re interested in learning more about what we do, please visit http://www.pediatricaidscoalition.org/, follow us on Twitter/Instagram (@pac_ucla), or like our Facebook page (Pediatric AIDS Coalition at UCLA).
Our primary event is an annual 26-hour Dance Marathon (DM) that takes place in the spring. DM is considered a True Bruin Tradition, an event that all UCLA students are encouraged to partake in before graduating. Participants must remain on their feet for all 26 hours, thus taking a literal stand against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. During the event, live performers and DJs boost the energy on the dance floor and interactive activities engage participants with the cause. We also invite speakers, such as EGPAF representatives, to remind dancers of the ultimate purpose of Dance Marathon. Though it’s a difficult task to accomplish, it’s made possible by the love and passion that everyone shares for the cause. Students leave the event with new knowledge and a broadened perspective, feeling empowered to make a difference in the world. Because of Dance Marathon, PAC has a platform to educate and inspire hundreds to thousands of students every year.
I didn’t anticipate that my involvement in PAC and DM would become such a large part of my identity at UCLA after only one year. I got hooked on the cause on my first college tour, and I continue to grow more passionate about it every day. It’s truly gratifying to work in partnership with EGPAF to end HIV/AIDS in children. Advocates of this cause watch the HIV infection rate decline annually, revealing how attainable an AIDS-free generation really is.
I am absolutely thrilled to be accompanying EGPAF on a trip to Tanzania, and I cannot wait to see the places and meet that people that we work so hard to support. Follow EGPAF’s Instagram (@egpaf) to follow along my trip to Tanzania! See you there!!