Dancer for Life: Dance Marathon

Sydney (far left) and friends at the UCLA Dance Marathon 2012.

Hom Photography

I am a Dance Marathoner: I have gotten completely buried in dancer bags, rubbed tennis balls on my sore feet, and lost more hours of sleep than I care to admit. And some people would call me crazy to take this on yet again after graduating. Me? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m Sydney, and this is the next stage of my life.

When I first joined the thousands of freshmen at the University of California, Los Angeles, I felt lost in the sea of new Bruins. So many clubs, so many people, so many opportunities, and no direction as to which way to go. But lo and behold, a flyer made its way into my hand, and that was the start of my Dance Marathon career. Dance Marathon became my family and my safe haven from school and work for the next four years. After meeting children affected by HIV/AIDS, hearing their inspiring, chill-inducing stories brought me to tears.

So for four years, I fought. I fought my eyes to stay open, to stay awake. I fought to fundraise as hard as I could. I fought so that mothers could be positive that their children are born HIV-negative. And now, I continue to fight – not as a Dance Marathon committee member, but as the program coordinator for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Life has come full circle: from taking part in Dance Marathon to running the program UP 4 THE FIGHT for EGPAF. Seeing the work from the inside that EGPAF creates and supports is absolutely mind-blowing. I am so extremely blessed to be a part of this amazing organization and see the progress made by these dedicated students to creating a world free of HIV/AIDS. I have never been around more inspiring people… until now. So, I guess it’s true: I am a Dancer for life.

Want to start your own Dance Marathon at your school and be an inspiration on your campus? E-mail

Sydney Van Horn is Development Coordinator for EGPAF, and is based in Los Angeles, CA.