STOCKTON - The rhythm of the music coursed through their veins. Or perhaps it was the beat of their feet moving in time. Whatever it was, there was plenty of energy moving through the Raymond Great Room at the University of the Pacific on Sunday.
More than 250 students, a few faculty members and members of the community gathered Saturday evening for an 18-hour dance marathon called "Dance for a Chance." At 4 p.m. the dancing began. Throughout the night, people danced with a variety of activities and a little spontaneity the students tried to last. And some didn't.
By 8:30 a.m. about 50 students remained on the dance floor, still movin' and groovin', while others lay down in corners and on chairs with their blankets pulled up over their heads.
The marathon, co-chaired by UOP students Lindsay Garland and Joe Takeuchi, was to raise money for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. The foundation is the leading worldwide nonprofit organization dedicated to pediatric HIV/AIDS research. The group also promotes global education and awareness in AIDS in children.
More than 2,000 children are infected with HIV each day worldwide, according to a recent report on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic by UNAIDS Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS.
"After all the money is collected, we will have raised $12,750 for the foundation," Garland said.
This is the third year the marathon has taken place.
"Last year we had about 100 people. This year about 250 showed up. It's growing in popularity," Takeuchi said.
And students weren't the only ones dancing out on the floor. The director of Community Involvement Program & Multicultural Affairs for UOP, Ines Ruiz-Huston, 30, of Stockton, was right there with the students.
In fact, some of her own students helped put together a mix song for the event so that the dancers could mark the hours. The CIP song was played every hour on the hour and the dancers were taught the moves in a line dance formation.
"They learned throughout the night. As you can see, many of them have it now," said Ruiz-Huston.
And what kept Ruiz-Huston's feet moving all night long?
"One Red Bull, a coffee, but mostly the music and the students kept me going," she said. "Also supporting the pediatric AIDS program. I hope we can save some lives and children can live a little longer."
But for Gabby Lopez, 21, of Kappa Alpha Theta, who didn't have to work on the weekend and likes to dance, it was her sorority sisters who kept her moving.
"My team kept us going for the 18 hours."
As dancers packed up their dancing shoes, some could be heard saying, "I am never going to dance again."
So if students show up for class Tuesday, dragging their feet behind them, give them a break. They spent the weekend moving to the beat for a cause worth the feat.
For more information, visit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation Web site or call (888) 499-4673.
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