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Davis, California

Saturday, March 2, 2024

UC Davis to host first dance marathon tonight

Imagine spreading awareness about pediatric and adult HIV and AIDS by dancing the night away.

Students will have the opportunity to do this at the first-ever UC Davis Dance Marathon. Beginning tonight at 8 p.m. and ending Saturday morning at 8 a.m. the event will be held in the lower half of the ARC Pavilion.

Eighty-five percent of proceeds from the event will go to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, an organization that raises money for prevention and research in pediatric AIDS. Fifteen percent will go to the Davis-based Sahaya International, a nonprofit organization that promotes awareness of social, medical and environmental issues in developing countries, especially in India and countries in Africa, according to Sahaya’s website.

The theme for the marathon is “Worldwide Pandemic.” It is not required that students come dressed according to the theme, but it is encouraged. Various types of world music will be played, in addition to popular music.

Cellular phone company T-Mobile and airline giant American Airlines are the event’s biggest sponsors. Emily Hsia, a senior neurobiology, psychology and behavior major at UC Davis and one of the event’s main organizers, confirmed that American Airlines has donated four round-trip tickets for travel anywhere in the lower 48 states. These, among other prizes, will be raffled off during the event.

Lilah Moorman, a UC Davis senior Spanish major and creator of the event, was inspired to bring the event to Davis after participating in one at UCLA last year. It lasted 26 hours, and she remained standing the whole time.

“It was fantastic. There’s a point at around one in the morning when you feel like you’re dying, but then you get over it,” she said.

A member of the Davis Honors Challenge, Moorman chose to bring a dance marathon to UC Davis for her senior project. She decided to create a 12-hour marathon, as it is Davis’ first one.

After Moorman presented the idea to her class, other students decided to join. Together, they formed committees and chose members through an online application process.

Now, after roughly two quarters of meeting, organizing and fundraising, the group gets to see their efforts come to life tonight.

“It was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be. We’ve learned a lot…. I’m looking forward to it,” Hsia said.

One of several UC Davis dance or vocal groups will perform every hour. Dance performers include hip-hop dance group Mobility and folklorico dance troupe Danzantes Del Alma. A cappella performances will be given by the Lounge Lizards, the Liquid Hotplates, and Dames and Fellas, among others.

Moorman said the extensive performance lineup is designed to keep participants energized and upbeat. As a result, performances will occur throughout the whole event, even in the early hours of the morning. For example, UCD’s Iranian Dance Team is scheduled to perform at 4 a.m.

All the activity is bound to create a few hungry stomachs, so a midnight snack of Woodstock’s pizza and ice cream from Davis Creamery will be provided. Breakfast will also be served, and snacks and beverages will be provided throughout the night.

Although it is encouraged that participants dance the entire time, they will be allowed to sit down on the floor if needed. There will also be a “contemplation room” for those who need a little rest, where dancers can view Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and read educational pamphlets with information on HIV and AIDS.

Educating participants is very important to the dance marathon organizers.

“A lot of people don’t know how HIV/AIDS is transmitted and that there are no real symptoms,” said Mayha Patel, a senior psychology major at UC Davis and head of the group’s education committee. “It’s all about getting the awareness out there for pediatric AIDS and adult AIDS.”

There will be educational and trivia games. Participants will also each be given nametags with AIDS facts on them.

Moorman said that in the end, the information the participants leave with is what’s most important.

“I think a lot of people know that HIV/AIDS exists, but they don’t really know the details and they don’t really know what to do about it,” she said. “I want people to see that there is a lot they can do. Each person has the power the power to do so much, especially with an event like this.”

It is not too late for those who still wish to participate in the event. Registration is open until 3 p.m., and can be completed online. The website can be found on the group’s webpage on facebook.com. A $10 registration fee is required.

For more information on tonight’s event and on how you can be on the committee next year, send questions to UCDdancemarathon@gmail.com.


DANAI SAKUTUKWA can be reached at features@californiaaggie.com.


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