Dance marathon fundraises for AIDS foundation

The Daily Californian | April 4, 2011

At the beginning of April, UC Berkeley hosted their annual Dance Marathon that raised more than $53,000 for the Foundation, breaking the previous fundraising mark for the event, and raising nearly $20,000 more than last year.

UC Berkeley's annual Dance Marathon - a fundraising event for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation - raised a record-breaking amount in donations for the foundation Friday night, as students teamed up and danced after weeks of fundraising before the event.

Individuals and teams from different communities on campus participated in the event, which consisted of 12 straight hours of dancing and activities in Pauley Ballroom. In order to register for the event, participants paid $15, which is the cost of medicine that prevents the transmission of HIV from a mother to her child.

"It's really exciting to see how Dance Marathon has grown," said Miraya Berke, one of the three co-chairs for the event.

UC Berkeley's Dance Marathon started in 2006, when it raised a few thousand dollars, according to Berke. This year, the event raised $53,478 - about $20,000 more than last year and the most that has ever been raised by the event. The group will still be accepting donations through the end of this week.

Organizers of the event implemented incentives to encourage participants to fundraise more money this year, including the option of receiving meals throughout the night if an additional $15 was raised on top of the entrance fee. Additionally, the more money participants raised, the more raffle tickets they received.

According to Outreach Director Jennifer Devries, this year's event also put more of a focus on philanthropy. Since the theme was Dr. Seuss, students dressed up as "Things" - resembling Thing 1 and Thing 2 - wandered around the event and told people facts about pediatric AIDS.

"Pediatric AIDS is one of those things that you can actually do something about," said Special Events Director Sally Westcott. "Every single person that comes is saving a life."

Organizers began work in September and sought to reach out to different groups on campus. Several dance groups and the Cal Band performed at the event, while other clubs created teams simply to participate.

But teams were not limited to clubs and organizations. Sophomore Stephen Appert and a group of engineering major friends created a team called Leadership and Frengineers.

"I feel like it's really important to raise awareness for something that, when you don't understand it, you have a lot of misconceptions," Appert said. "I feel like maybe awareness would create ... a new level of understanding."