Dancer Diaries: 900 stickers, Making an Incredible Impact

By Sydney Van Horn | October 3, 2013

Last week, students at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. kicked-off their annual Dance Marathon season by spreading awareness about pediatric HIV/AIDS.

S.Van Horn/ EGPAF

As the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF)’s Development Coordinator, Sydney Van Horn supports college students across the nation as they host the best dance party of their lives --  EGPAF’s UP 4 THE FIGHT Dance Marathons raise awareness and money to help continue the fight against pediatric HIV/AIDS. Stay tuned for more of Sydney’s Dancer Diaries!

Sure, a gold star can make you feel good, but what if I told you a something as simple as wearing a white address label could make an impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS? You’d be interested, right?

That was the story 900 stickers told at the College of the Holy Cross last week, during its fall kick-off for the Dance Marathon season. On Thursday Sept. 26, the Holy Cross Dance Marathon (HCDM) committee launched this year’s registration and fundraising page.

To mark the event, the HCDM committee decided to show how pediatric HIV would impact the students of Holy Cross. Armed with the knowledge that every day 900 children are born with HIV, each committee member took a handful of labeled stickers -- numbered 1-900 – and braced themselves.

Decked out in their HCDM dance marathon gear, they introduced themselves to strangers on campus and labeled them with a number. Then, they explained how they now represent child #28 or #402: one of the 900 children infected every day with HIV.

Throughout my meetings on campus that day, I glanced around and saw hundreds of people wearing their numbered stickers proudly. I watched a committee member boldly approach strangers and listened as a student explained to his friend that he was #173 out of the 900 children infected daily.

My heart sang – they were learning!

At the end of the event while we were debriefing at the Dance Marathon table, a few phones went off. “SYDNEY!” said a committee member, “LOOK AT THIS!” I took her phone and read the email she received from Chip Lyons, EGPAF’s President and CEO. Here’s what it said:

“Seven hundred -- daily. That’s right, 700 babies are born HIV-positive every single day because their mothers lack the knowledge, medicines and care they desperately need. While these recently released figures from UNAIDS highlight the progress we’re making, that’s still 700 too many.”

Some students cheered. Some quizzed me on next steps. Others were awestruck. Last year they had a 1000 A DAY event; this year was the 900 A DAY event. And on same day they learned that we were progressing even further in getting women, children, and families the care and treatment they need and deserve.

At College of the Holy Cross this past week in Worcester, MA, I witnessed passion and excitement for the year ahead with EGPAF and Dance Marathon. And I couldn’t be more proud.

The stickers made an impact.

To learn how you can stand UP 4 THE FIGHT, be sure to check out Holy Cross Dance Marathon or email up4thefight@pedaids.org if you want to start your own Dance Marathon!

Sydney Van Horn is a Development Coordinator at EGPAF, based in Washington, D.C.