Dance Marathon Retreat 2013: “What will I take away from this retreat? Everything.”
Last month, students from college campuses from across the country came together at EGPAF headquarters for our annual Dance Marathon retreat to learn and share their Dance Marathon experiences. In this blog, Jenny Sipiora, Treasurer for Holy Cross Dance Marathon (HCDM), shares what she learned at the retreat and what affected her most about her visit.
It’s rare to walk into a conference room full of strangers and feel welcome and at home. But at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the sense of community among members of the EGPAF team is practically palpable, so it is easy to understand why this created a feeling of camaraderie amongst Dance Marathon members during the EGPAF Dance Marathon Retreat. Every single person that I met during the retreat was extremely helpful, knowledgeable, and sincere. The 10 Dance Marathon participants were transparent with each other throughout the three days, and we all benefited from our diverse sources of information.
All of the presentations were extremely useful; as external chair/treasurer, I paid particular attention to the talks involving social media, corporate sponsorships, and other financial topics. Since leaving the retreat, Holy Cross Dance Marathon has made its very first Instagram account, started updating our followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook, and organized our first summer fundraiser!
On a more personal note, hearing presentations from individuals who are living with HIV impacted me the most. We were extremely fortunate to meet EGPAF Ambassadors Ben Banks, Jamie Gentille, and Tatu Msangi during our visit to D.C. These incredible ambassadors reminded us why we traveled to this retreat in the first place. Just as we were getting swept up in the logistics of the event, we were instantly grounded when we heard from someone who has faced and fought this disease. One of the EGPAF Ambassadors told us that if it were not for the work of EGPAF, she may not have survived. This is what makes the work worthwhile for all of us.
What will I take away from this retreat? Everything. The new friendships with other Dance Marathon leaders, the support of EGPAF, the information and resources provided to us, and of course the stories of the EGPAF Ambassadors. All of these things will serve as our foundation and motivation to make this year our best Dance Marathon yet. HCDM is planning its third Dance Marathon, and this can be a daunting challenge if you compare us to another school that may have more experience or a larger student body. But after attending this retreat, I feel extremely prepared and excited about the work to come. It is imperative that Holy Cross be on the front lines of the war against pediatricHIV/ AIDS, and it all starts with Dance Marathon. We’re Up 4 the Fight!