Dancing Towards An HIV-Free Generation: Dance Marathon
Nivedan Nayak is a senior at UCLA, majoring in communications and minoring in film and television. Last year, he decided to participate in UCLA’s Dance Marathon for the first time. “I was afraid of having to raise so much money and stay on my feet for a whole 26 hours, but I ended up having the time of my life!” For this year’s Dance Marathon, he decided to come up with a unique way to raise money and awareness, using his love of dance and social media to get the word out about his fundraising goals.
“Last year, a few friends of mine raised money by offering to do chores, bake cookies, write and perform songs, and even provide massages to donors –I wanted to do something similar as an incentive for my friends to donate. I love to dance, so it was pretty clear what I could do to make fundraising fun for everybody.” Friends and family request dances, which Nivedan performs on YouTube in exchange for donations to Dance Marathon. He says that coming up with creative fundraising ideas can encourage people to donate. “While people can be excited to donate to a great cause, doing a little something extra to show your appreciation makes them that much more happy to send some money your way.” Currently, he’s raised $536 from his YouTube videos, halfway to his goal of at least $1000.
So far, his favorite videos to make were the "Single Ladies" and "Disco" videos, but he’s constantly getting new requests. He’s looking forward to participating in this year’s Dance Marathon, and he’s learned a lot about EGPAF and its work to fight for children and families living with HIV around the world. “It was eye-opening to realize how many children are infected with HIV every day due to mother-to-child transmission, and that all of these cases can be prevented with the right tools and funds.” Nivedan says that the challenges of Dance Marathon make the ultimate result that much sweeter. “Staying on our feet for 26 hours is by no means easy, but it is so entirely doable – not to mention a blast! – when there are so many others doing the same thing for a great purpose,” he said. And when the final dollars are tallied, “everything we do … is completely worth it.”
Jane Coaston is Media Relations Coordinator for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.