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BRYAN MIRAFLOR/New University Intern

A great turnout came out to the Student Center to support the annual Care-A-Thon philanthropy project this Friday, raising money for the UCI Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which specializes in caring for newborn babies who either have birth defects or were born prematurely.

“I think in order to start traditions, you have to start somewhere.” said Aaron Levin, a third-year business administration major and director of finance and corporate relations for Care-A-Thon. “So if we continually progress to have more people come out, we’ll have more potential to grow.”

Growth was, indeed, apparent. The number of people attending the event went far over the numbers of attendees in the previous year, marking the event a success for all those involved. Within the auditorium, games were set up in one corner, while dancers performed to the cheers of hundreds of students. Tables were placed on either side, where people were encouraged to make cards for hospital patients, each one dedicated by and courtesy of UCI anteaters. A raffle took place, with gifts ranging from an electric guitar signed by Conan O’Brien to fancy gift baskets donated to the event by sponsors. UCI student-based dance groups from B-Boys Anonymous to MCIA were also present, dazzling the crowd with their moves. Also in attendance were musical performances by Lucky Charms and The Cataracts, rounding out the night with a solid selection of guest entertainment.

“We’ve performed for Care-A-Thon in the past, they’ve been really nice to us,” said Julius Villanueva, one of 20 B-Boys Anonymous dance crew members in attendance to perform for the crowd. “It’s definitely for a good cause and having everyone come together and having all these dance teams give performances and the people here at UCI come watch us, it’s a really good feeling.”

A general positive vibe and sense of bonding was shared by many.

“I don’t feel that this event is about the money,” said Curtis Brown, one of the executive directors of Care-a-thon. “I feel it’s about the involvement. UCI is at a turning point, and I feel events like this can solidify the anteater pride that we all want to share.”

According to Armeen Komeili, co-executive director of Care-A-Thon, the numbers of donations and attendees this year showed big improvements over last year.

“This year, we put a lot more focus on how to get people out here, and it really turned out for the better.” said Komeili. “This is one of the few organizations that is entirely student-run, and one of the biggest philanthropy [events] in terms of money raised by students. I’m hoping that, through this, we can foster a better sense of community and create an event that everyone will look forward to through the year.”

Jorge Ancona, assistant vice chancellor of alumni relations, confirmed that this year’s event raised more money than last year. According to Ancona, last year’s Care-A-Thon was able to raise over $7000. That number was matched by the UCI Foundation’s Board of Trustees, meaning that over $15,000 in total was raised. This year, Care-A-Thon was responsible for raising $9,581. With the match from the Board of Trustee, the fundraiser’s success totaled more than $19,000, all of which will be donated to the UCI Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

According to Joy Ding, a third-year international studies major and Care-A-Thon’s Director of Communications, the success of this year’s Care-A-Thon will contribute to progress in making the philanthropy even larger with each successive event. To her, Care-A-Thon is about students at UCI coming together to do something different, and to make a difference, and in the process, grow as a community.

“Working for an event like this,” Ding said, “shows that no matter how busy we are, no matter how occupied we are with our school work, at the end of the day, we are still able to come together as a team, as an organization, and as a community, to help raise money and awareness for a great cause.”

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