Northwestern University’s 2014 Dance Marathon (NUDM), held March 7-9 on the lakefront campus, raised a record-breaking total of $1.38 million.
More than a thousand undergrads danced 30 hours to raise money for this year’s designated charity, Team Joseph, which supports the fight against Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a form of the disease that affects young boys, as well as the Evanston Community Foundation.
Marissa Penrod, founder of Team Joseph, told the dancers: “[B]ecause of what you’re doing, we will fund more research and we will drive the science to a treatment or a cure for Duchenne even faster. But tonight we dance, we dance for the kids who can’t, so that some day they can.”
After being presented with an oversized check for $931,289, Ms. Penrod responded emotionally: “They say there is no love like a mother has for her children. But what I feel for this executive board and all of you [dancers] comes really close to that.”
In a dramatic conclusion to the event, the “reveal” of the final total raised, members of NUDM’s finance committee posted the number on a giant tally board – $1,385,273 – as weary dancers cheered and wept.
“It’s inspiring to see you tackle each block [three-hour dance segment] with the exact same dedication you tackled your fund-raising, community building and advocacy all year on behalf of our beneficiaries,” NU senior and NUDM executive board co-chair Josh Parish told the dancers. “Each and every one of you is an inspiration to us and an example of Wildcat pride.”
And for the 17th straight year, 10 percent of the net proceeds – $103,476 – went to the Evanston Community Foundation, thus benefitting local not-for-profits. Said NUDM co-chair and senior Anna Radoff in presenting the symbolic check: “To the Evanston Community Foundation, we are beyond fortunate to have a next-door neighbor so dedicated to our cause and dedicated to consistently bettering our surrounding community.”
A highlight of this year’s Dance Marathon was a personal video from President Barack Obama, shown to the dancers during a break early on the first night.
“Hey Northwestern, I’m here to help you kick off Dance Marathon on its 40th anniversary,” he said seated at his desk in the Oval office. “Your hard work has made this one of the biggest student-run philanthropies in America. Chicago’s proud of you and I’m proud of you. I know Michelle would be proud of you too. Thirty hours of dancing takes ‘let’s move!’ to a whole new level. But most importantly your energy and enthusiasm is going to do a lot of good for a lot of people. So thank you for making a difference to the life of your community and your country. And now, after months of effort, here’s the fun part. Get dancing, good luck and go Cats!”
Other celebrity videos shown were from the casts of the musicals “Book of Mormon” and “Newsies,” Adam Sandler and Kevin James, the Today Show, Jim O’Heir from the TV show “Parks and Recreation,” Katie Couric, the cast of the TV series “Scandal” and Seth Meyers. As Mr. Myers, a 1996 graduate of Northwestern and host of NBC-TV’s “Late Night with Seth Myers,” told the dancers: “I wish I could be with you, but I danced in 1994 and I’m still really, really sore.”
Since it was founded in 1975, Northwestern’s annual Dance Marathon has raised more than $15 million for nationwide and local charities.