Special Feature: Dance Marathon 2013

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Freshman Dancer Following Dad's Lead

Alumnus of first Dance Marathon will watch his son dance this year

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March 7, 2013 | by Matt Paolelli

Generations of students have spent 30 hours dancing in Northwestern University’s annual Dance Marathon (NUDM) philanthropy event. This year the generational NUDM torch is being passed from a father to a son.

When Roy Elvove (Communication ’75, Medill ’76) was a senior, he served as public relations chairman for the first NUDM event in 1975. This year his son Zach, a freshman in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, is serving as a communications co-chairman on the public relations subcommittee and dancing in the event.

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to take part in one of Northwestern’s famous traditions, and it didn’t hurt that my dad once participated in this event,” Zach said. “It sounded like something that my dad is proud to say he was a part of, no matter how modest he is about his involvement.”

Roy is returning to campus to watch his son dance and to experience an event that he said is “bigger, better and more beneficial” than he ever imagined it could be.

The first iteration of NUDM -- "Dance to Give Them A Chance” -- was held at the newly opened Blomquist Gymnasium.

“It was driven by the efforts of Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) fraternity, of which I was a member,” Roy said. “It successfully raised close to $10,000 for charity and featured some of the biggest local bands and entertainment in the area, including Frank Sinatra, Jr.”

The first event’s beneficiaries were the National Association for Retarded Citizens and the Epilepsy Foundation of America. Coincidentally, this year’s primary beneficiary is the Danny Did Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that provides epilepsy awareness information and subsidizes seizure detection devices for families in need.

“It brought a lot of the University together in support of these worthwhile causes,” Roy said. “It was a great excuse to stay indoors during the winter quarter, and it was an adrenaline rush.”

Dance Marathon has grown tremendously in the decades since its inception. NUDM now takes place in a large tent behind Norris University Center to accommodate the more than 1,000 dancers who are hoping to exceed last year’s record-breaking total of more than $1.1 million.

Zach said NUDM’s current success can be directly attributed to the efforts of everyone who came before him -- including his dad.

“Especially since my dad was the entire committee I am on, it makes me appreciate what ATO and the student government were able to accomplish,” Zach said. “It’s not like I am trying to follow in my father’s footsteps here at Northwestern, but I think it’s a really nice feeling to know I am carrying on an NU tradition my father helped to establish as well as making it into a family tradition.”

Roy said he is excited for the weekend’s festivities and to experience firsthand the legacy he helped foster both at Northwestern and now in his own family.

“Close to 40 years later, Northwestern’s Dance Marathon has taken on an identity of its own,” he said. “And then to watch your own child take his own place in Dance Marathon history … Words cannot begin to capture that feeling.”

Topics: People