UCLA Students Raise More than $400,000 for the Fight Against Pediatric HIV/AIDS
February 18, 2010
Students at UCLA have been hosting their Dance Marathon since 2002, and every year it keeps getting bigger and better. This year was no different. More than 840 student dancers and 1,500 supporters flooded the Ackerman Union Ballroom on the UCLA campus in Westwood, California, for 26 hours, raising more than $400,000 to help support the lifesaving work of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, One Heartland, and Project Kindle.
As dancers entered the ballroom on February 13 at 11:00 a.m., they were greeted by throngs of supporters from campus and the community, urging them to stay on their feet for more than a day — until February 14 at 1:00 p.m.
The students met this tall task head-on, as they were entertained by musical and dance performances, celebrity appearances, and a performance by the UCLA marching band. When energy levels were low, students were treated to food and beverages donated by Odwalla, Monster, Trader Joes, Yagurt, and others.
“Celebrity moralers” — Hollywood stars on hand to cheer on the dancers — included Kristin Bauer of HBO’s TruBlood
, Rico Rodriguez II from the television series Modern Family
, and So You Think You Can Dance
finalist Legacy Perez, among others.
Foundation Ambassadors Cristina Pena
, Jill Vargas, and Jake Glaser
, the 25-year-old son of Elizabeth Glaser, shared their stories with the dancers, urging them to keep dancing and encouraging them to stay involved in the fight to end pediatric HIV/AIDS.
“We are the future,” Glaser said to a room full of tired dancers, just hours before the end of the event on Sunday morning. “We are the leaders of tomorrow.”
As the event drew to a close, Dance Marathon chair Christina Brown took to the stage, first, to thank the dancers, and second, to reveal the fundraising totals. You could sense both the fatigue and excitement in the students as they awaited word of how much they raised. When the record-breaking total was announced — $407,223.73 — students lept from their seats in celebration and applauded themselves on a job well done.
A year from now, some of the same faces will again pack the ballroom, with a goal to remain the largest student-organized philanthropic event on the West Coast, and to again break their fundraising record. But regardless of how much money they raise, the ultimate goal behind the students’ drive to stay on their feet for 26 hours is encompassed in the last line of Jake Glaser’s remarks: “Let’s continue this great effort together until we have created a generation free of HIV.”