Dance-a-thon raises $52,000 for HIV

Various student groups collaborated on Saturday to raise money for kids with HIV.

Thirteen-year-old Darrell put on a dazzling array of dance moves Saturday in front of onlookers at the Mall of America âÄî but Darrell happens to be in a wheelchair and living with HIV. On Saturday, University of Minnesota student groups Minnesota’s Future Doctors and the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students , in addition to other groups, helped engineer a 12-hour dance-a-thon at the Mall of America to raise money for children affected with HIV. The $52,000 that was raised will help kids attend camp One Heartland, a national non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of children infected with HIV, such as Darrell, and their families . The event, which began around 10 a.m., consisted of both featured performers with choreographed routines and impromptu dancers who just wanted to help the cause. In addition to Darrell, who delivered a poignant testimonial on top of his performance, 400 other volunteers joined the cause, including former American Idol participant Paris Bennett and actor Jonathan Bennett . Last year, the event raised $38,000, but the groups were determined to reach $50,000 this year, which they surpassed. Chemistry sophomore Alex Yue , one of the primary organizers of the event, said about 80 percent of the kids that they raise money for are living in poverty and cannot afford to go to the camp on their own budgets. Thuy Nguyen-Tran , from MinnesotaâÄôs Future Doctors, said the groups really wanted âÄúto see people live healthy lives,âÄù which is what sparked them to become involved. Sophomore biology and physiology student Dame Idossa participated in last yearâÄôs event as a dancer, but did the majority of recruiting for the 400 participants this year, about 50 of which were University students. Idossa recruited the âÄúHalf-Pints,âÄù which featured about 25 dancers and their leader, Eboni Poole , a senior at Brown College. âÄúAnything thatâÄôs going to help support [HIV], IâÄôm willing to give my time,âÄù Poole said. âÄúIâÄôm hoping that we are blessed to get the opportunity to perform every year, because we had a blast.âÄù Sammi Grob , a freshman at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, was one of the non-featured volunteers. Grob and a group of friends dedicated six hours out of their day dancing for the cause. Students from Jefferson were able to raise $3,000. Yue said the groups have plans to expand their involvement on campus to Welcome Week in the fall.