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Dance Marathon will support Cradles to Crayons, Evanston Community Foundation

Students will dance 30 hours nonstop March 9 to 11

For the past year, more than 1,000 undergraduate students have applied their talents, imagination and social contacts to fundraise for Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) 2018.

Personal fundraising efforts included making and selling artwork, collecting coins from motorists at intersections, providing laundry services and performing public stunts for pledges such as wearing a “Left Shark” costume for a day.

The hard work and creativity are all in the service of supporting two worthy nonprofit organizations: primary beneficiary Cradles to Crayons, a national organization that provides children from birth through age 12 in homeless or low-income situations with the essential items they need to thrive, and secondary beneficiary Evanston Community Foundation (ECF), which invests in the community through grant making, leadership development and capacity building. As NUDM’s secondary beneficiary since 1998, ECF will receive 10 percent of NUDM 2018’s net proceeds.

The 44th annual Dance Marathon will take place March 9 to 11 at Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus. Donations for this year’s event can be made online at

“It has been incredible to watch the Northwestern community come together to support an organization that has the ability to make a widespread impact across the Chicagoland area,” said Daniel Nussbaum, one of the NUDM 2018 executive co-chairs.

Through its work with Cradles to Crayons, NUDM hopes to benefit local children by expanding the nonprofit’s presence in the Chicagoland area. With the help of NUDM’s secondary beneficiary the Evanston Community Foundation, Cradles to Crayons will expand into Evanston, leaving a lasting impact in Northwestern’s backyard. NUDM also hopes to increase Cradles to Crayons’ capacity to fulfill its community requests, doubling the number of children they can serve.

“In the first year of Cradles to Crayons in Chicago, we were able to serve 37,000 kids,” said Bernard Cherkasov, Cradles to Crayons executive director. “Since our partnership with Dance Marathon that number has grown to 60,000, largely due to a partnership that Dance Marathon helped to create between the Evanston Community Foundation and Cradles to Crayons.   

“This partnership has helped us connect with early childcare providers in the community to identify and distribute items to more children in need.”

“Every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential,” said Jamie Newman, the other NUDM 2018 executive co-chair. “Cradles to Crayons provides children with essential items that not only promote confidence, but allow kids to just be kids.”

In addition to fundraising, NUDM partnered with Cradles to Crayons to increase service and awareness efforts. Students and members of ECF visited the Cradles to Crayons’ Giving Factory where they sorted essential items into personalized “KidPacks” for families in need. In addition, students participated in ECF service events and volunteered at multiple locations throughout the Evanston community.

One of the largest, entirely student-run philanthropies in the nation, NUDM has raised more than $19 million for more than 30 different charities. For each of the past seven years, more than $1 million was raised. The final total is presented in an oversized, eye-popping check to the beneficiaries at the conclusion of the marathon, bringing the exhausted dancers alive with wild cheering. 

NUDM 2018 begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 9, and concludes at 1 a.m. Sunday, March 11. A livestream of the event can be viewed online at

Upcoming NUDM 2018 public fundraising activities include: 

  • A silent auction at from Thursday, March 1, 6 p.m. through Saturday, March 10 at 6 p.m.
  • The NUDM 5K and 10K around the University’s beautiful “lake fill.” The run begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 10. The preregistration fee is $25, though runners are encouraged to fundraise more for NUDM and its 2018 beneficiaries. Registration and more information is available at
  • A Kids Fair at the Norris University Center will feature family-oriented activities. Admission is $5 or donated items for Cradles to Crayons. For a list of accepted items visit the Cradles to Crayons website.

Now in its 44th year, NUDM is one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the nation. Since 1975, NUDM has raised more than $19 million for more than 30 different charities. Last year, NUDM raised more than $1 million for its seventh consecutive year in support of GiGi’s Playhouse — a nationwide network of Down syndrome achievement centers that impacts the lives of children and adults with Down syndrome through free educational and therapeutic programs. To learn more, visit

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