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The Other Marathon of Dance Marathon

Medill senior Alexis Crawford talked on air last week with WGN Radio 720 host Steve Cochran to promote Dance Marathon.

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March 7, 2006

After the music and dancing stopped, last weekend’s Dance Marathon (DM) had raised $686,377. Of that total, more than $400,000 will be donated to Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative, and almost $45,000 will be directed to the Evanston Community Foundation.

Senior Alexis Crawford, a four-year volunteer, 2006 board member and sometimes dancer, shares her reflections on the event and the yearlong marathon of putting on one of the nation’s largest student philanthropies.

On her role this year

DM was my life for the past six months. I dreamt about it. I had nightmares about it. And I hoped and hoped that the message would get out. I talked about it with family, friends and even prospective employers on job interviews.

My title was media and public relations co-chair. I’m one of 35 members of the DM executive board who worked on pulling off the big event. I was in charge of contacting radio, TV, newspapers and magazines to get them to cover DM.

My co-chair and I managed a committee of about 25 people. We had subcommittees to split up the work of promoting DM awareness to the world outside Northwestern.

On the biggest media hits she scored

I organized 50 people to attend the WGN TV morning show — 50 college students who had never seen 5 a.m. on their alarm clocks but managed to get decked out in DM gear and show up with great attitudes.

I spoke with media people all over the city, including Steve Cochran of WGN radio, and I did a dance-off with Larry Potash of the WGN TV morning show.

We also had a full-page ad donated for the Midwest edition of Time magazine.

On the personal cost of involvement

During the spring and summer we put together the press packet for the media and outlined goals for the year. During the fall, we had weekly committee meetings, weekly executive board meetings and office hours, not to mention constant e-mails and all the little things that always needed to be done right away.

In winter quarter there were weekly committee and executive board meetings, in addition to four hours a week of office time, faxing and organizing our strategy.

Basically, the DM office was home to board members. We all joke that we have no friends anymore because of DM. Our old friends constantly wonder where we are and what we’ve been doing. The strict time management skills needed to keep me on the board also have kept me on track with schoolwork, which still took second place to anything DM.

I have to say, though, that it’s worth every minute when I think of the close bond I formed with the people involved with DM. And hopefully we’re making a difference in the lives of people in Chicago, people we’ll probably never meet.

•   •   •

More than 57,000 volunteer hours were logged in making DM 2006 happen. And a DM 2007 executive board information session has been scheduled for April 2.

It’s never too soon!