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Students Dance Marathon Raises More Than $140,000 for Fight Against Pediatric AIDS

By Bernard Goldstein

Columbia students dance the night away to fight pediatric AIDS

For the second straight year, students involved in the Columbia University Dance Marathon (CUDM) raised over $140,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The event is quickly becoming a popular way for students to boost both awareness and resources for the foundation.

There is a purpose behind asking participants to dance until they reach exhaustion. The 28-hour marathon is meant to simulate the fatigue that children with HIV/AIDS experience everyday. Dancers are expected to remain on their feet for the entire marathon while their needs are taken care of by the Steering Committee, which organizes and runs the event. Sponsors like Aramark, Crown Catering, the Office of Student Development and Activities and the Office of Residential Programs donated food and provided entertainment for the event.

The marathon was packed with emotional moments as HIV-positive children and their parents shared stories of survival, triumph and loss. Friends told the story of Elizabeth Glaser, who decided to do something to address the pediatric AIDS crisis after finding out she had contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion and passed it on to her children. In 1988, she and two friends started the organization, which was posthumously named for her. Today the foundation works globally to advance research and improve the quality of life for children with HIV and AIDS.

"CUDM has given the Columbia community an event that is fun, unifying and long-term," said CUDM advisor Kyle Pendelton. "Individuals and groups involved with CUDM work for months organizing fundraisers; they attend educational workshops on HIV/AIDS, and even have the opportunity to volunteer with kids. This is all before the actual 28 hours of the dance marathon."

Last year's top individual fundraiser was Katie Romansky, CC '03, who raised $8,000. This year she collected more than $6,000, while simultaneously serving as fundraising chair. Romansky has experience with this sort of event, having volunteered at Camp TLC, a summer camp for HIV-positive children run by the Joey DiPalo AIDS Foundation, and at the Incarnation Children's Center, a residence for children with pediatric AIDS in New York City.

"Spending time with HIV-positive kids, and seeing how the Foundation has helped them has really inspired me," Romansky said. "Many of them would not be here without the work that the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation does."

The dance marathon provides an opportunity for the entire Columbia community to unite for an important cause.

"Students, deans and administrators tell me how excited they are for the marathon," said Will Hunter, CUDM chair. "I hope people will use their experience with the dance marathon as a spring board for future community service."

Plans for next year's dance marathon have already begun, and the drive for $200,000 will soon begin.

Published: Mar 26, 2002
Last modified:Sep 18, 2002

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