Angie Suarez only expected a free meal when she went to Fast-A-Thon for the first time last year.
The 20-year-old UF public health junior was pleasantly surprised to learn about Islam and what fasting means to Muslims, she said. She came back to the O’Connell Center with a group of friends and an appetite Thursday night.
“It was about so much more than food,” Suarez said.
More than 450 students ate a traditional Mediterranean dinner during Islam on Campus’ 15th annual charity fundraiser.
The group raised more than $4,000 for Islamic Circle of North America Relief’s Transitional Women’s Homes in Florida and the Edhi Foundation, a social welfare organization in Pakistan, said Sana Nimer, the group’s president.
Islam on Campus will donate to the charities on behalf of each student who signed up to fast from sunrise to sunset.
“We choose to fast because it unites us with those who are less fortunate,” Nimer said.
Students ate hummus as an appetizer; Kefta, a traditional beef dish, with rice; a Mediterranean salad as an entree; and cake for dessert.
The majority of students who attended were not Muslim, said Mariam Abouzied, an executive board member.
“I believe that Fast-A-Thon will show that anyone can make a difference,” she said. “College students in Florida can be impacting lives across the world.”
The dinner also featured guest speakers UF President Kent Fuchs and Imam Abdurrahman Sykes, a Muslim community leader from Orlando.
Sykes began fasting as a Christian 46 years ago, he told students. He converted to Islam after researching fasting in different religions and in Muslim communities.
“Fasting involves more than just being hungry and thirsty,” Sykes said.