Students, Celebrities, Performers and Activist Unite at UCLA
The central motif of 2009 thus far has been hope – hope for change, hope for justice, hope for a newfound LOVE for fellow Americans and world citizens. At UCLA, students occupy the forefront of this movement, representing a new generation of activism and dedication to social equality. And nowhere is this better illustrated than through UCLA's ever-growing Dance Marathon. A fundraiser for pediatric AIDS organized and executed entirely by students, the event is more relevant at this moment in history than ever before. This past weekend, on Feb. 21st-22nd, students, activists, performers, celebrities, and corporate sponsors came together to fight ignorance, demystify pediatric AIDS, and raise money for research and resources. That is why the theme of Dance Marathon 2009 is LOVE.
The eighth annual Dance Marathon took place on the UCLA campus in the spacious Ackerman Grand Ballroom and lasted for 26 hours until 1p.m. on Sunday.
Through student efforts, Dance Marathon at UCLA has already raised nearly $1.4 million in just seven years to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, One Heartland, and Project Kindle. This year 728 Dancers remained on their feet for a full 26 hours, acknowledging the struggle of children infected with HIV by fighting their own personal battle. 2,000 more students stopped by to "morale" for three-hour shifts or volunteered to help keep the event running smoothly. With student involvement at a record high, this year's event raised a staggering $362, 741.94 benefiting the event's three amazing beneficiaries.
After the red carpet rolled out, the celebrity appearances provided the perfect dream-come-true opportunity for our special guests from One Heartland and Project Kindle – campers who have been living with HIV for most of their lives. Celebrity guests included Kate Flannery (The Office), Rick Neuheisel (UCLA Football Coach), Stacy Keibler (Dancing with the Stars), Layla Kaleigh (America's Best Dance Crew), Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls), Candis Cayne (Dirty Sexy Money), Kimberley Caldwell (American Idol, TV Guide), Kimberley Locke (American Idol), Robbie Amell (Picture This, Life with Derek), and special guest performance from Talib Kweli.