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Dance Marathon 2008 to Benefit Bear Necessities and ECF

March 4, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- A record-breaking 750-plus students will don their dancing shoes the weekend of March 7 to 9 during Northwestern University's 2008 Dance Marathon to raise funds for two local organizations -- Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF).

It is the highest number of participants in the organization's 34-year history and a far cry from the 21 couples who danced to raise funds for charity during the inaugural Dance Marathon in 1975. In recent years, an average of 600 dancers have taken part in the 30-hour event.

More than 375 couples will begin dancing on the Evanston campus at 7 p.m. Friday, March 7, and continue dancing until 1 a.m. Sunday, March 9, in the Louis Room of Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus. Dancers will take 10-minute breaks every three hours to rest. Some will use this break to change costumes to reflect the 10 different three-hour blocks of dancing themes.

Dance Marathon is one of the world's largest student-run philanthropies. This year's record turnout of dancers is a result of strong outreach to student groups on campus. Representatives from 31 student organizations will have teams dancing in the 2008 marathon.

The public is invited to observe the dancers as well as participate in the numerous fund-raising events, including a silent auction, a 5-K run, carnival games, a spa, a kids fare, a Bingo game, poster making and an a cappella show. There is a $2 to $5 or higher fee for each event. In previous years, Dance Marathon has attracted up to 3,000 visitors during Dance Marathon weekend.

The dance area will have a live video feed for Internet streaming. In addition, students will be able to communicate with their family, friends and Northwestern alumni around the country through blogs during the 30-hour marathon.

Bear Necessities, this year's primary beneficiary, is a Chicago-based, national organization that was founded 15 years ago by an 8-year-old cancer patient and his mother with a mission to eliminate pediatric cancer and help other children with cancer and their families. The organization was named after Barrett "Bear" Krupa, who, at the time, was undergoing treatment for Wilms Tumor, a rare kidney cancer that affects children. Sadly, "Bear" succumbed to the disease in winter 1993.

"We are thrilled that Northwestern's Dance Marathon is joining Bear Necessities in the fight against pediatric cancer," said Kathleen Casey, "Bear's" mother and the foundation's founder and president. "Our partnership will not only allow us to brighten the lives of kids with cancer in the Chicago area, but we will be able to fund more promising, cutting-edge, research grants to find a cure to this devastating disease."

Net funds raised during Dance Marathon will help fund research for a cure for pediatric cancer, including a collaborative symposium that will bring together researchers and medical professionals from across the country. Additional funds will sponsor special events for patients and their families. For more information about Bear Necessities visit http://www.bearnecessities.org.

The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) has been Dance Marathon's secondary beneficiary since 1998. ECF will receive 10 percent of this year's net proceeds. Since 1998 ECF has received more than $610,302 through the efforts of Northwestern students.

"We think that we're better together: dollars from Dance Marathon increase our spring grants substantially, and we're able to help connect Dance Marathon with Evanston," said Sara Schastok, executive director of the foundation. "Dance Marathon's co-chairs are also members of ECF 's grants committee, full participants in selecting all the spring season's grant recipients."

The foundation builds and manages its own and other community endowments, addresses Evanston's changing needs through grant making and provides leadership on important community issues. To learn more about the foundation's new impact plan, "Every Child Ready for Kindergarten," visit http://www.evanstonforever.org.

Most of the $800 that all dancing couples must raise comes from soliciting donations from family and friends or "canning" on sidewalks, streets or parking lots for cash.

In addition to the 750 dancers, more than 300 students work all year long fundraising, volunteering and preparing for the dancers.

Northwestern University's Dance Marathon has raised a combined total of more than $8 million since its founding in 1975.

Students who participated in Dance Marathon 2007 netted a record-breaking $708,711.20 for two local beneficiaries. Of that total, $423,027.68 was donated to Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE), last year's primary beneficiary. The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) received $47,003.08.

To view a Dance Marathon video visit http://www.nudm.org or http://youtube.com/watch?v=4liflC36VFg.

For more information about Dance Marathon 2008 or this year's Dance Marathon beneficiaries, a schedule of fundraising events, or to make a donation, contact the Dance Marathon office at (847) 491-2387, e-mail pcr@nudm.org or visit the Dance Marathon Web site at http://www.nudm.org.
Topics: Campus Life