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Dance Marathon Results Break Records

Dance Marathon generates record-setting total of more than $1.1 million in cash, donations

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March 5, 2012 | by Judy Moore
Video produced by Matt Paolelli

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Wild jubilation, with tears of joy, erupted when the more than 900 exhausted undergraduate students who danced last weekend for 30 hours during Northwestern University Dance Marathon 2012 (NUDM) learned the news.   

Their efforts helped to raise $1,107,670 in cash and in-kind donations for this year’s two beneficiaries -- the highest amount raised in the student organization’s 38-year history.

Following the conclusion of the 30-hour dance-a-thon, the NUDM executive board presented the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation for childhood cancer with a check for $717,770.29, which was accepted by Joe McDonough, founder and president of the B+ Foundation. A second check, for $79,752.25 to the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF), was accepted by Sara Schastok, president and CEO of ECF.

NUDM 2012, which took place at Northwestern’s Norris University Center, marked the culmination of a 10-month campaign to raise funds and awards for this year’s two beneficiaries.

The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation was established in memory of a 14-year-old soccer athlete and 'A' student from Wilmington, Del., who lost his valiant fight against acute myelogenous leukemia in 2007. Andrew’s B+ blood type and his “be positive” attitude became the foundation’s motto. During the past four years, the foundation has awarded more than $1 million in grants and financial aid to families of children with cancer and funded research in Chicago and across the nation.

“There is a lot of focus on the impressive final total that was revealed, but for every dollar raised, the impact on the number of lives we touch is tenfold,” McDonough said. “It’s impossible to quantify the incredible impact of Dance Marathon because it goes so far beyond dollars and cents.”

ECF received 10 percent of funds raised. As the secondary beneficiary for the 15th consecutive year, ECF will use this year’s proceeds to help Evanston thrive through grants to local organizations and to help fund ECF’s own programs that assist nonprofit organizations.

“The foundation is most grateful for this year’s biggest-ever gift from Dance Marathon,” said ECF’s Schastok. “Evanston will also benefit more than ever. We encourage everyone to look beyond this year’s fundraising success and applaud Northwestern students for their personal dedication to Evanston and B+. Our board recognizes the skill with which the executive board works for the NUDM organization, and we’re proud to work with them.”

In addition to the more than 900 student dancers in this year’s event, which matched last year’s record high level of participation, approximately 300 committee members worked throughout the year and for the duration of the 30-hour marathon to make the entirely student-run event a success. More than 1,000 visitors attended NUDM to witness the historic event that took place in a 10,400-square-foot climate-controlled tent on the East Lawn of Norris Center.

Among this weekend’s special guests was University President Morton Schapiro, who lauded the dancers with the support of the Northwestern Wildcats football team. Northwestern’s men’s basketball team also made an appearance at the fundraiser Saturday night, following their 70 to 66 win over Iowa earlier that day and their long drive back to the Evanston campus from Iowa City.

Several video greeting messages from celebrities, including Northwestern alumnus Seth Myers, the “Weekend Update” anchor on “Saturday Night Live,” were aired throughout the event to energize the dancers. Performances by various student groups provided entertainment to dancers during snacks and meals that were donated by local restaurants and retailers.

This year’s event was streamed live to Evanston and Chicago campus locations and on the Dance Marathon website at nudm.org. For a $40 donation, energetic Northwestern alumni in the area had an opportunity to dance for three hours Saturday afternoon at Norris.

Northwestern alumni also aided in the fundraising by attending satellite celebratory alumni parties that were held at designated “AlumNites” locations throughout the country, including Seattle, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.

“This was just an incredible year for Dance Marathon,” said NUDM Executive Co-Chair Scott Ritter. “The size and scope of this year’s event is a testament to the dedication of our dancers and the strong partnership we created with our two outstanding beneficiaries.”

“Our goal was to make Dance Marathon more than just 30 hours of dancing,” added Executive Co-Chair Kunal Joshi. “In particular, we wanted to make it a yearlong effort, allowing us to better engage our dancers and supporters with the community and beneficiaries, and we believe we were successful in doing just that.”

Now in its 38th year -- and one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the world -- NUDM has raised more than $13 million for more than two dozen charities. Last year, it raised more than $1 million in cash and in-kind donations for The Children’s Heart Foundation and Evanston Community Foundation.

Alumni and the public helped with the fundraising by making donations online at www.nudm.org/donate or by participating in NUDM events at Norris Center, which included a silent auction held throughout the weekend event, 10 K and 5 K lakefill runs and a kids fair that allowed non-dancing supporters to contribute to the fund- and awareness-raising efforts.

More on Dance Marathon

Since the first Dance Marathon in 1975, dancers who have signed up have often been part of a student organization or dorm-sponsored team. In order to dance this year, each dancer had to raise a minimum of $400.

Since the start of the 2011-12 academic year, 300 NUDM student committee members have been reaching out to fellow students, alumni throughout the world and the public by word-of-mouth, email and other Web-based and mobile technologies to invite them to participate in fundraising activities.

They also have “canned” on street corners for donations throughout the Chicago area, participated in letter writing campaigns, devised creative fundraising activities including weekly trivia nights and NUDM Top Chef and Battle of the Bands competitions, and held information sessions or “firesides” in campus dormitories to spread the word about the annual fundraiser.

Multi-hour dance marathons have also been held by two suburban Chicago high schools. Evanston Township High School students will donate the proceeds they raised last November to NUDM’s two beneficiaries as well as to Special Olympics. Oak Park and River Forest High School students will donate all the money they raised in January to NUDM’s two beneficiaries.

In September 2011, NUDM was named the Most Influential College Organization at the 3rd annual Classy Awards in San Diego, Calif. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn also honored NUDM with an official proclamation declaring the weekend of March 2 to 4, 2012, as “Northwestern University Dance Marathon Weekend” in the state of Illinois in recognition of the organization’s philanthropic mission and ability to unify the community.

For more information, visit www.nudm.org.