As the excitement peaked in the final hour of this year's Dance Marathon (DM), the dancers and executive board members presented a check to the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) for $44, 449.84.
It represented the largest donation since the partnership between DM and ECF began in 1998. ECF Chair Kirk Hoopingarner and Executive Director Sara Schastok accepted the giant check on behalf of the foundation with big smiles and thanks.
The DM executive board decided to increase the funds for the Evanston community to 10 percent, up from 7.5 percent last year. As one of the top five contributors to the foundation, Dance Marathon has donated a total of $254,450 for ECF grants and programs.
After raising money through solicitations, canning and creative fundraising methods since last spring, this year’s grand total came to a record $686,377.73. As the primary beneficiary, Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative (PACPI) received more than $400,000.
Before the money totals were released, the Dance Marathon executive board announced that 57,176 hours of service went into the planning and execution of this year's event, which was held the weekend of March 3.
The 30-hour dance took place at Norris University Center on the Evanston campus. Dancers took 10-minute breaks every three hours to change costumes for varying themes. Highlights included celebrity get-ups for “Fabulous Life Of” and ethnic costumes for “Around the World in 3 Hours." Celebrity messages and TV monitors around the room with encouragement from dancers’ friends helped keep the energy high.
Participation was higher than ever before with about 1,000 Northwestern students directly involved, making it one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the world. Thirteen staff members joined the dancing as well.