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Students to Dance for Kids who Can't

40th annual Northwestern University Dance Marathon to take place March 7-9

EVANSTON, Ill. --- One thousand undergraduate students will dance for 30 hours in the 40th annual Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) to help a Michigan-based organization battle a devastating muscular disease and provide funding to an Evanston group for local grant making.

The March 7 to 9 weekend marathon marks the culmination of a yearlong philanthropic effort supporting Team Joseph and the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF), NUDM 2014’s primary and secondary beneficiaries, respectively.

NUDM 2014 begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 7, and concludes at 1 a.m. Sunday, March 9, at Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. A live stream of the entire event can be viewed online at

Donations for this year’s event also can be made online at

Other NUDM 2014 fundraising activities that are open to the public include:

Silent Auction online from Monday, March 3 through 1 a.m. Sunday, March 9. The online silent auction goes live March 3 at

• A 5K Run around the University’s lakefill begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 8. The pre-registration fee is $20, or $25 on the day of the event, all benefiting NUDM. Check-in starts at 10 a.m. at Norris University Center. Registration online at

Kids Fair, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at Norris University Center. Admission is $5 per family. Tickets can be purchased at Norris Center on the day of the event. The children’s fair will feature fun family-oriented activities, including face painting, cookie decorating and beanbag tossing.


In its 40 years, Northwestern University Dance Marathon -- one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the world -- has raised more than $14 million for more than 30 different charities.


The 22-member NUDM Executive Board unanimously selected Team Joseph as the 2014 primary beneficiary. The non-profit organization funds cutting edge research to find a treatment or cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal degenerative genetic muscle disease affecting 1 in 3,500 boys. The life expectancy for those afflicted is in the early 20s.

Team Joseph was founded in 2008 by Marissa Penrod, who refused to let her son Joseph be defined by his diagnosis of Duchenne at the age of 5. Joseph is now 11. The organization has evolved into the strong movement it is today with the support of family members, friends and a network of volunteers.

Team Joseph has been actively partnered with NUDM throughout the year. Boys with Duchenne and their families visited Northwestern for a holiday party, Valentine’s party and cheered the Northwestern Wildcat football team from the Ryan Field sidelines. For more information on Team Joseph, visit


The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) is NUDM’s secondary beneficiary for the 17th consecutive year. The foundation builds, connects and distributes resources and knowledge for the common good through local organizations. ECF will receive 10 percent of the net proceeds this year. NUDM has given ECF $1,031,263 since 1998, making NUDM one of the foundation’s top four contributors. Through its 17-year partnership, the Evanston Community Foundation and NUDM have awarded 298 grants to 128 organizations. “Northwestern University Dance Marathon gives back locally and supports many Evanston causes through the Evanston Community Foundation,” said Sara L. Schastok, president and CEO of ECF. For more information on the foundation, visit


To celebrate 40 years, NUDM has worked hard to reconnect with alumni and Northwestern community members. Alumni have been providing written and multimedia accounts of their NUDM experiences to help raise funds and motivate dancers. Celebrity alumni have submitted videos that will air during the March 7-9 marathon.

Northwestern alumni clubs in London, Philadelphia, Seattle, Washington, D.C., New York and Memphis are hosting fundraising events this year. Clubs in Chicago, San Francisco and Portland have actively engaged their members. NUDM hosted an anniversary gala with alumni in downtown Chicago, highlighted by speeches from the NUDM founders.

Special fundraising events for NUDM 2014 included a series of trivia nights, a cook-off event at Norris Center, “canning” for cash donations on Evanston area streets and a student letter writing campaign soliciting funds. Additionally, Northwestern athletics hosted fundraising events at basketball, tennis, wrestling and swimming competitions and organized a talent show benefiting NUDM.


Each year, the NUDM committee selects a primary and secondary beneficiary to receive proceeds (minus expenses and in-kind gifts) collected after months of fundraising, Fundraising concludes in early March after 30 hours of dancing takes place on the Evanston campus at Norris University Center.


Dancers raise a minimum of $400, and more than 99 percent of dancers complete the entire 30 hours of dancing. The marathon is split into 10 three-hour “blocks,” each of which has a different theme that sets the tone for the music, set and dancer wardrobes. More than 250 Northwestern non-dancing students will attend the event for all 30 hours as staff focused on production, security, dancer relations, accounting and public relations.

NUDM 2013

Last year, NUDM broke records by raising $1.2 million in cash and in-kind donations -- the highest amount in the organization’s 39-year history. It supported the Danny Did Foundation, which combats Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) and the Evanston Community Foundation.

Thanks to Northwestern students and thousands of generous local, national and international donors, last year’s Dance Marathon executive co-chairs were able to present a check for $741,394.10 to the Danny Did Foundation. Another check for $82,377.12 -- 10 percent of the net proceeds -- went to the Evanston Community Foundation.

Tom Stanton, the executive director of the Danny Did Foundation, will return to Dance Marathon this year to share the progress of his organization and the legacy made possible by NUDM 2013.

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