A rockin’ event with a serious purpose will bring dance crews, hip-hop and DJs together in support of desperately ill newborns when UC Irvine students hold their annual Care-a-thon, a dance marathon benefitting UC Irvine Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

The fundraiser will be held 6 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, Feb. 23, at the UCI Student Center. Participants are asked to raise at least $25 in donations for admission. Once inside, they will stay on their feet for six hours with motivation provided by DJs, free food, games, a photo booth, a henna artist and raffle prizes. Organizers hope to raise at least $15,000 for the NICU, which treats newborns with a range of serious health issues. Almost $5,000 already has been raised online at ucicareathon.org.

Organized by the Student Alumni Association, a program overseen by the UC Irvine Alumni office, the dance marathon has become a popular campus event, said Sylvia Romo, a student programs manager in the UCI Alumni office who works closely with organizers.

“Last year we had more than 400 participants and they all had a great time,” she said. “But most importantly, they raised $20,000 to help the critically ill babies who might not otherwise survive without the attention they receive at UCI Medical Center’s neonatal intensive care unit.”

The dance marathon is open to students, faculty, staff and UCI alumni; organizers are soliciting community support through donations, as well. Aaron Levin, a business major who has volunteered with the project for two years, said the experience cultivates a sense of community and tradition that grows with each year.

“UCI Care-a-thon is fun, and it reminds us to be thankful for our health as we do our best to help the babies in the NICU,” said Levin, executive vice president of the planning committee. With each dance move, we provide the prospect of life for babies in need.”

The event is a part of UCImpact, a UCI Alumni Association initiative that promotes philanthropy and community engagement.

“We encourage our students to be involved while they attend UCI with the goal of helping to build altruistic citizens who are engaged with their community for the rest of their lives,” said Jorge Ancona, assistant vice chancellor of alumni relations.

Find out more about UC Impact at ucifuture.com/ucimpact.

Facts about UCI Medical Center NICU:

  • The Level III NICU meets rigorous state standards and delivers some of the nation’s best outcomes for babies and mothers.
  • The state-of-the-art facility features advanced diagnostic and treatment technologies, including care for newborns with brain injury or respiratory failure.
  • UCI’s maternal-fetal transport – a specially designed ambulance for newborns – is the only one of its kind in Orange County and serves patients as far away as Barstow.
  • Researchers have pioneered pediatric surgery techniques and set standards for fetal surgery and the correction of birth abnormalities.
  • UCI’s world-class, comprehensive teaching program encompasses all sub-specialties and includes medical students, fellows, physician assistants, neonatal nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, pharmacologists and physical therapists.
  • Through its innovative, multidisciplinary research and teaching programs, UCI improves the standard of care at NICUs everywhere by training the nurses and doctors who save the lives of babies in crisis.

Facts about the Student Alumni Association:

  • The SAA is a UCI Alumni office-supported volunteer group that offers students an opportunity to develop leadership skills and make a difference in UCI’s future while networking with administrators, alumni and community leaders.
  • SAA volunteers help coordinate key campus events including UCI Care-a-thon, Dinners for 12 Anteaters, Wayzgoose and Lauds & Laurels.

About UC Irvine Medical Center: Orange County’s only university hospital, UC Irvine Medical Center offers acute- and general-care services at its new, 482,000-square-foot UC Irvine Douglas Hospital and is home to the county’s only Level I trauma center, American College of Surgeons-verified regional burn center and National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center. U.S. News & World Report has included UC Irvine for 11 consecutive years on its list of America’s Best Hospitals, giving special recognition to its urology, gynecology, and ear, nose & throat programs.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

News Radio: UCI maintains on campus an ISDN line for conducting interviews with its faculty and experts. Use of this line is available for a fee to radio news programs/stations that wish to interview UCI faculty and experts. Use of the ISDN line is subject to availability and approval by the university.