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Northwestern Dance Marathon to Benefit Two Charities

Starlight Children’s Foundation and Evanston Community Foundation to receive funds

EVANSTON, Ill. --- For the first time since 2010, dollars raised by students for the 41st annual Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) in March will not be used for research.

Instead, this year’s net proceeds will benefit a leading global charity that partners with experts to provide entertainment, education, activities and programs for seriously ill children and their families. As usual, an Evanston-based group that provides funding for local grants for the common good, also will benefit from the fundraising.

From March 6 to 8, NUDM will mark the culmination of a yearlong philanthropic effort supporting Starlight Children’s Foundation and the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF), NUDM 2015’s primary and secondary beneficiaries, respectively.

That weekend a dedicated group of more than 1,000 energetic Northwestern undergraduate students will dance for 30 nonstop hours to raise funds for both organizations in NUDM’s 41st annual fundraising event.

Starlight plans to use the funds they receive from this year’s dance marathon to build newly designed and welcoming pediatric treatment rooms, playrooms and teen lounges in up to 10 hospitals in the greater Chicago area that will provide a safe haven for chronically ill children undergoing treatment.

The group’s goal is to ensure that every child experiences a happy childhood. Currently reaching more than 60 million children worldwide, the 10 new Starlight Sites planned for Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan will help Starlight reach nearly two million more children and families. NUDM “heroes” include children with critical and chronic illnesses such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, pediatric cancer and congenital heart disease.

“Starlight stood out as special to us because it will help any child facing a chronic or critical illness, so everyone we’ve helped through NUDM in the past can benefit from Starlight’s work, now and for many years to come,” said Ander Aretakis, NUDM executive co-chair.

Aretakis is co-chairing this year’s event with David Ryan.

NUDM 2015 begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 6, and concludes at 1 a.m. Sunday, March 8, 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 can be made online at Other NUDM 2015 fundraising activities that are open to the public will include:

• A Silent Auction that will go live online a week before NUDM begins. Bids will be accepted through Saturday, March 7. All proceeds will go the primary and secondary beneficiaries. For more information, visit

• A 5K Run around the Northwestern’s lakefill begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 7. 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. The 5-kilometer run ends at 1 p.m. Pre-registration will be available online.

• A Kids Fair, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, will take place 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 activities, including face painting, cookie decorating and beanbag tossing.

Other related NUDM 2015 fundraising events have included a series of trivia nights, a Battle of the Bands event, and “canning” for cash donations on Evanston, Skokie and Winnetka streets, as well as before and after basketball games at the University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Starlight Children’s Foundation


Founded in 1982, Starlight Children’s Foundation provides family-centered programs and services from hospital to home to improve the experiences for millions of children and families. It currently partners with more than 1,750 healthcare facilities and pediatric hospitals in Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Since 1990, Starlight has been transforming designated areas of sterile hospital environments. These cheerful playrooms, teen lounges and playgrounds offer a variety of diversions, including video games, computer, toys, crafts, music, as well as the company of other children. These Starlight Sites are designed to help ease young patients’ stress by stimulating the senses, providing an antidote to loneliness and an escape from the isolation of a hospital room. To learn more, visit or follow Starlight on Facebook and Twitter.

Evanston Community Foundation (ECF)


The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) is NUDM’s secondary beneficiary for the 18th consecutive year. The foundation builds, connects and distributes resources and knowledge for the common good through local organizations. In March 2014, ECF received 10 percent of Dance Marathon’s net proceeds -- a check for $103,476.58 -- breaking the $100,000 mark for the first time. Last May, Dance Marathon dollars helped ECF to fund 28 local grants totaling more than $258,000. (ECF made total distributions of $1,987,421 in 2013-14.) For more information on the foundation, visit

NUDM Fundraising History

In its 40-year history, Northwestern University Dance Marathon -- one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the world – has raised more than $15 million for more than 30 different charities. Last year, NUDM broke the $1 million mark for the fourth consecutive year.

In 2014, NUDM celebrated its 40th anniversary, and also raised a record-breaking $1,385,273 in cash and in-kind donations, thanks to the efforts of 1,000 Northwestern undergraduate student dancers, 300-plus committee members, various fundraising events throughout the year, and thousands of generous local and national donors, including alumni who helped support the 2014 fundraiser. It was the first time that “cash” fundraising exceeded $1 million.

NUDM 2014 executive co-chairs Josh Parish and Anna Radoff presented a check for $931,289.21 to Marissa Penrod, the founder of Team Joseph, a non-profit organization that 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. For more on NUDM, visit
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