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The Life Changing Popsicle

By: Nicholas Jensen, UCLA ’15 Political Science

In one of the most trying experiences I’ve had at UCLA, I was saved by a life changing popsicle. Looking back, I hesitate to say that it was actually “life changing,” but in that moment it certainly felt like it.  When I ate this supposed “life changing” popsicle, I had been standing on my feet for 13 straight hours and had another 13 hours ahead of me; I must have been crazy to sign up for 26 straight hours without sitting.  However, I was doing Dance Marathon, a 26-hour dance-a-thon fundraiser that takes place every year in Pauley Pavilion.  Participants—called “Dancers”—pledge to take a literal stand against Pediatric AIDS and the stigma that surrounds the disease by fundraising at least $260 (often more) to dance at the event.

But I digress; let’s get back to my life changing popsicle. I was only halfway done with the event and was struggling to stay standing. Anyone who has done Dance Marathon can tell you about the highs and lows one goes through over the course of 26 consecutive hours of standing.  It was around midnight and everything was going downhill: my attitude was waning and my whole body was exhausted.  My feet were especially sore, so I grabbed my trusted tennis ball (every Dancer is given one) to roll and massage my aching feet.  It was like pure bliss in a ‘hurts so good’ type of feeling.  As I was massaging my sore feet, that’s when it happened: the popsicle.

A guy I did not know wearing a green shirt walked up to me, handed me a popsicle from a box he was carrying, and said “You’re halfway there, keep it up!” As soon as I tasted that popsicle my spirits soared and my attitude completely changed. Suddenly, everything was better.  To be honest, I now can’t even recall the flavor of my life changing popsicle, but what I do remember was the kind stranger who gave it to me.  The fact that someone else empathized with my situation and offered me a small token of kindness was just the boost I needed. To this day, a stranger handing me that life changing  popsicle at midnight remains one of my favorite memories from Dance Marathon 2014.

I later learned that the kind stranger was a moraler. Moralers register for 3- hour shifts during the event, and their job is to bring high energy and boost the morale of the Dancers. Moralers are an integral part of Dance Marathon. It’s the perfect way to still be involved with the event for those who are worried about completing all 26 hours, concerned with fundraising, or do not have the time to commit. A 3-hour shift is the perfect way to experience Dance Marathon and bring the energy to pump up the other Dancers. Energy and excitement are infectious at Dance Marathon and Moralers can be that “life changing popsicle” for a Dancer.

Register to Morale at Dance Marathon 2015! This April 18/19 in Pauley Pavilion!

The special UCLA Community morale shift is April 18th from 3p-6p, it’s catered to UCLA Faculty, Staff, and Families! Cost is $30 ($15 for kids ages 16 and under) and includes a DM shirt! Register starting in mid-February online here! Email Nick Jensen at with questions!

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