When most college students rave about their weekend, they're not talking about staying up all night raising money for charity.


"It was fantastic! I had a blast!" said Matt Morenz Panopio, a 2010 Sultana High School graduate turned UCLA Bruin sophomore.


Panopio was one of more than 830 students who managed to dance for 26 hours straight at the 11th annual Dance Marathon at UCLA. The event which started with more than 1,600 students raised $451,144 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, two free summer camp programs for children with HIV or family members of HIV victims and the UCLA AIDS Institute.


"It was just as difficult as I thought it would be, but mind you, I thought it was going to be extremely difficult," Panopio said. "Around 4 a.m., my body was starting to shut down legs sore, feet aching, back and shoulders tense. I somehow managed to cross over that hump with a good break off the dance floor and a little snack and some stretching."


Alyx Yankaskas, a 2010 Sultana graduate who also participated in the event, said seeing children affected by HIV and AIDS kept her motivated.


"They were probably around five to seven years old, and they got up on that stage and danced their hearts out," Yankaskas said. "Any time I felt discouraged or overwhelmed by the throbbing pain in my legs, I'd remember those kids, and their beautiful, smiling faces and say to myself, 'Get over it, Alyx, do it for them! Do it for the kids!' All of the sudden, my legs didn't hurt any more."


"We're in pain for 26 hours," Panopio said, "but these kids affected and/or infected by HIV/AIDS are suffering their entire lives, and for that, it pushes you to keep going."


Though it was painful, Yankaskas said it was all worth it when the clock hit 1 p.m. and they learned they'd raised more money than UCLA has ever raised through the event before.


"Words can't even describe how great it felt to see that number," she said. "To know, how many lives we helped, and potentially saved, just by coming together and grooving for 26 hours."


Both students say they plan to participate in the fundraiser again in 2013.


"It was a great experience and for such an important cause," Panopio said, "and because of that, I will probably be doing it again next year!"