Addressing the usual Dance Marathon crowd of people, dressed in colorful, wacky outfits, organizers announced that UCLA’s Pediatric AIDS Coalition raised $434,515 for this year’s Dance Marathon.
PAC holds the annual event to raise money to fight pediatric AIDS and HIV, and has raised millions since the event first launched in 2002. The total amount participants raised this year is $11,739 less than the $446,254 participants raised last year.
According to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the team that raised the most money in this year’s event was PAC, with donations of more than $110,000.
The money will be donated to four organizations, with 70 percent of proceeds going to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, 17 percent to Project Kindle and 12 percent to the UCLA AIDS Institute. About 1 percent of funds goes back to PAC to support local youth affected by AIDS and HIV.
Dancers were cheered on throughout the event by “moralers,” students who raise $30 to $40 to attend a three-hour shift to encourage attendees throughout the event, according to the PAC website.
Throughout the event, various entertainers, including student groups and outside bands, performed to keep participants energized. Actress Tia Mowry from the show “Sister, Sister” made an appearance, and the musical acts Half the Animal, grandson and Yukai Daiko were among the prominent performers.
Justin Hackitt, a science teacher at Viewpoint High School in Calabasas, California, has no affiliation with UCLA, but participated in Dance Marathon for the third time this year. He said he became involved with Dance Marathon for the first time four years ago when his good friend forwarded him event information on Facebook.
The team led by Hackitt raised $21,000, the second-highest amount donated.
[Related: Dance Marathon 2016]
Many student participants have participated in Dance Marathon since their first years, and some said they felt the event has become part of UCLA culture.
“I love how it brings the community together,” said Kayla Samuels, a second-year psychology student who is participating for the second time. “UCLA students from so many different backgrounds come together to support this great cause. It’s also very fulfilling to know how you can push your body to these limits.”
Josh Proal, a third-year psychobiology student and captain of the red team, participated for his third time this year.
“Seeing the team captains in my freshman year kept bringing energy,” Proal said. “Even at 6 a.m. when you’re really tired, you feed off the energy of people around you.”
Though some students are connected to the cause, many of them are learning about pediatric AIDS for the first time or choose to increase their awareness of AIDS through the event.
“I love that I learn something new every year I do it,” said Kayla Svihovec, a fourth-year philosophy student who has participated in Dance Marathon four times. “PAC does a good job spreading information that people don’t find anywhere else.”
She added she thinks the event shows students how it affects families and children, and she thinks it is good that the money goes directly to the cause.
Jenna Betz, a fourth-year biology student, said she thinks the event is unique in how it affects the issue of pediatric AIDS.
“PAC is one of the few organizations where you see the change when you’re doing it,” she said. “It’s the best and worst 26 hours of my life.”
Contributing reports from Andrea Henthorn, Sharon Zhen and Hedy Wang, Daily Bruin contributors.