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Dance Marathon 2024: Pediatric AIDS Coalition raises spirits, awareness and $48,070 in annual event

Members of the Pediatric AIDS Coalition hold up numbers on stage, displaying the amount of money raised. Dance Marathon 2024 raised $48,070 this year. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

By Abigail Siatkowski

April 7, 2024 4:21 p.m.

This post was updated April 7 at 7:54 p.m.

The final hour of Dance Marathon 2024 rushed to its close.

By the end of the evening, which concluded around 12:20 a.m., the Pediatric AIDS Coalition at UCLA had raised $48,070. Last year, PAC raised $118,413.83. Third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student and PAC President Sasha Avakyan said although this year’s total was lower than last year’s, the team saved money on the expenses of this year’s event and will ultimately be able to donate more money to its beneficiaries.

Although the home stretch of the event started out slow, a series of morale dances, performances and the anticipation of revealing the total amount of money fundraised energized the event for its finale. At the top of the hour, PAC members led the audience in their morale dance to “Rush” by Troye Sivan. Shortly after, they rallied the crowd by announcing the winners of the raffle prizes, which included a Salt & Straw gift card and Ikea gift baskets.

Grace Swenson, a first-year physiological science student who attended the event and won an Ikea gift basket, said she first heard about the event through the True Bruin Traditions Keeper app. Before learning about Dance Marathon, Swenson said she was not aware of how AIDS can affect children. The event’s mission encouraged her to power through the entire event, she added.

“It piqued my interest in staying the whole time even more because it’s such a great cause,” Swenson said.

(Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)
Members of the Pediatric AIDS Coalition and participants in Dance Marathon point to a performer who is holding a microphone. Dance Marathon 2024 featured a variety of student performances. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

After the announcement of the raffle winners, the student band Wright & The Wrongs took to the stage to perform as the final act of the evening. Though the energy among the crowd was dwindling, a cover of The Zutons’ “Valerie” got dancers moving as the event headed towards its final minutes. Max Wright, a second-year pre-business economics student and the band’s lead singer, said the performance marked his first time at Dance Marathon. He was proud to be part of the event, he added.

“I feel like we have just a spirit and a culture here at UCLA,” Wright said. “Not only are we supporting a good cause, but we’re supporting each other.”

Wright & The Wrongs wrapped up their set with a crowd-rallying rendition of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” that had participants screaming and singing right along. Soon after, the PAC team segued into announcing the winners of the Color Wars, in which participants were divided into teams to compete against each other. The winner of the competition was announced as the blue team to an eruption of applause.

Grace Strottman, a second-year psychobiology student and a member of PAC’s dancer relations committee, served as a color captain for the orange team. She said her team’s ability to quickly fundraise made her confident that the event had been successful. Despite feeling a bit daunted by the event’s length, Strottman added that by the end, she felt like she could keep going.

“I was kind of dreading it, and I could keep going for hours like I’m having so much fun,” Strottman said.

As the event drew to its close around midnight, Avakyan stepped onstage to thank all the participants, the members of PAC and others who helped make the night possible. In her speech, she encouraged those present not to forget what they had learned about pediatric AIDS that evening.

“All of you guys have a red ribbon now that shows your commitment to what we do, so please do not forget what you learned today and what you came here to do,” Avakyan said.

(Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)
Members of the Pediatric AIDS Coalition clap their hands together in joy. After 13 hours of dancing and performances, Dance Marathon 2024 ended at midnight. (Jeremy Chen/Photo editor)

Following the speech, PAC members – accompanied by the vocals of Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night” – announced the total amount of money raised as $48,070. The team then played a video reviewing the day’s event.

Reflecting on the cause, PAC co-director of moraler relations and internal operations and fourth-year geography and public affairs student William McReynolds said his main takeaway from the event is the future. Although he is graduating this year, McReynolds said he hopes that even 10 years from now, he will still follow PAC on Instagram to keep up with its progress. He said he believes that Dance Marathon is so popular because it builds community.

“Humans innately want to help other humans,” McReynolds said.

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Abigail Siatkowski | Managing editor
Siatkowski is the 2023-2024 managing editor. She was previously the 2022-2023 PRIME director, the 2021-2022 PRIME content editor and a contributor for the Arts, News, Sports and Outreach sections. She is also a fourth-year communication student with a minor in information and media literacy.
Siatkowski is the 2023-2024 managing editor. She was previously the 2022-2023 PRIME director, the 2021-2022 PRIME content editor and a contributor for the Arts, News, Sports and Outreach sections. She is also a fourth-year communication student with a minor in information and media literacy.
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