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Rocklin High alumni dance for a cause

26-hour marathon supports Pediatric AIDS Foundation
By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald correspondent
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People interested in supporting the cause can visit http://support.pedaids.org/goto/NeilBrinck.

A marathon of movement is moving two Rocklin High graduates to move the UCLA community and HIV-affected children of the world on behalf of The Pediatric AIDS Coalition at UCLA's 2013 Dance Marathon: "Illuminate" on Feb. 16 and 17.

"Completing a 26-hour marathon where you're not allowed to sit will not be easy, but that only makes the accomplishment that much better,” said Juliet Bennett, a 2011 Rocklin High School graduate and mechanical engineering major. “It is also very powerful to me what a large event this ends up being and the sheer number of people who want to get involved so that they can help fight, too.”

She and 2012 Rocklin graduate Neil Brinckerhoff will be among a sea of thousands of individuals dancing for a continuous 26 hours in the center of the Los Angeles campus’ Ackerman Grand Ballroom.

Throughout the 26-hour period, there will be multiple different "shifts" with different themes like "Bright lights, big city," each accompanied by a different genre of music.

"There are such amazing causes out there and sometimes it is difficult for everything to reach places like Rocklin," said Brinckerhoff, who said he likes to dance, especially for a good cause.

In its 11 years since conception, Dance Marathon has raised $3 million to benefit HIV-affected children around the world through entities like the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, Project Kindle and the UCLA AIDS Institute.

Last year, the event grossed $450,000 from the support of its 3,000 supporters. The event has showcased celebrity appearances in the past, too.

Dance Marathon, the largest student-run philanthropic event on the West Coast, not only seeks to empower the global youth affected from HIV, but also to educate the UCLA campus community by valuing HIV education and testing as a means to prevent contracting the disease.

The UCLA signature event has become a celebration in the Los Angeles community and is looking to expand into other regions of the state, specifically into the hometowns of committee members and dancers alike.

"The Pediatric AIDS Coalition is still a young organization and we are looking for new, innovative ways for Dance Marathon to unite students, community activists, celebrities and leaders around the cause of pediatric AIDS," said Elliot Yancy, a public relations committee member of the Pediatric AIDS Coalition who will be dancing with Bennett and Brinckerhoff and completing administrative tasks as part of the team that supports the entire dance population through motivated, positive and energetic attitudes.

"I think most of the preparation has to be mental and I think the most important part is that we recognized during the event that our choice to be in physical pain and our choice to struggle is just a representation of the pain and struggle that children with pediatric aids have no choice but to experience," Bennett said.

She added she appreciates the support of Rocklin High’s Debi DeVinna.

Albeit both have been awake for 26 hours through Rocklin's Relay for Life, and both took dance classes while Rocklin High students, Brinckheroff and Bennett have different plans to prepare for the marathon.

"I'll try to catch up on some sleep, but we know how that always works out," laughed Brinckerhoff, an aspiring human biology and society major, who, like every dancer, must meet the individual requirement of donating $250 to dance.

"We (the Rocklin alumni) are also representing our community to a larger audience and showing off what kind of worldly, involved people are bred in Rocklin," Bennett said.