Everybody loves a good date, but what if that date could also raise money for charity?

That was the idea behind last Friday’s date auction in Library Mall designed to raise money for the University of Wisconsin Dance Marathon.

The Dance Marathon is an annual 18-hour dance-a-thon that raises money for Camp Heartland, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the UW Children’s Hospital. During the event, dancers are entertained constantly with DJs, live bands, performance groups, dance contests, theme hours and games to distract them from the long hours. For the past two years, the marathon has been hosted by celebrity hosts from MTV’s the Real World, including Eric Nies and Mike “the Miz.” In addition, children from Camp Heartland come to the event to talk about their experiences living with HIV/AIDS and to cheer on the dancers.

In addition to the $25 registration fee that dancers must pay, participants are each required to raise at least $180 which is donated to the three charities.

To help this year’s dancers raise the necessary funds, dates with high-profile UW students were auctioned off to the highest bidder. This year’s participants included one of the Bucky mascots, breakdancers and members of the university’s dance team.

One participant, UW senior Tom Hoban, was originally invited to the auction as Bucky himself.

“I am one of the Bucky mascots, so they wanted to auction it off as a date with Bucky,” Hoban said. “But when there was a mix-up with the costume, I just went as myself.”

The highest bidders were each awarded upcoming dates with the auctionees, complete with a free dinner and chaperones upon request.

“There were two girls that got pretty into it,” Hoban said of the auction. “Tensions were high, but I made $50 for charity, so it was definitely worth it.”

When asked whether or not the upcoming date could have any romantic results, a single Hoban said, “I don’t know, I’ve never been on a blind date before, so I’m not really sure what to expect, but I guess it’s possible.”

Though the Dance Marathon will not be held until Feb. 20 and 21 of 2004, potential dancers will be busy raising money for the next few months in order to participate in the event. In addition to the recent date auction, before all of the home football games dancers will be canning, or using cans to collect donations from passersby.

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