Northwestern University Dance Marathon
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The Northwestern University Dance Marathon, commonly known as NUDM, is a philanthropic dance marathon held every March at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1975, NUDM is one of the nation's most established and largest entirely student-run philanthropies. NUDM is one of the only annual Dance Marathons in the country to continually change its primary beneficiary. NUDM has raised over $1 million for its beneficiaries each year since 2011, and involves over 1,000 students participating as dancers and committee members. Since 1997, the Evanston Community Foundation has been NUDM's secondary beneficiary.
In May 2016, GiGi's Playhouse was announced as the primary beneficiary for NUDM 2017. GiGi's Playhouse is 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. Through its partnership with GiGi's, NUDM hopes to improve the lives of individuals with Down syndrome and simultaneously share a message of global acceptance for people of all abilities.
For the 20th consecutive year, the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) was announced as NUDM 2017's secondary beneficiary to honor the close relationship between Northwestern University and the city of Evanston.
NUDM 2016 raised $1,201,216.24 for Blessings in a Backpack, a leading childhood hunger organization that mobilizes communities, individuals and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America. NUDM fed more than 9,400 elementary schoolers that come from food insecure homes and made a direct impact on hunger in the Evanston and Chicago area, through both the expansion of programs at existing schools and the initiation of programs at new schools.
In 2015, NUDM raised $1,130,979 for Starlight Children's Foundation, a global organization that supports critically and chronically ill children and their families from hospital to home. This money supported the creation of 11 "Starlight Sites," beautifully designed pediatric treatment rooms and playrooms reaching nearly 477,865 children in just one year.
For its 40th year, NUDM supported Team Joseph, raising a record-breaking $1,385,273 to fund research to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This remains the highest total ever raised for the event.
The Dance Marathon was inspired by NU's participation in the University of Illinois dance marathon in 1974. After representing NU at UI, Jan Jacobowitz approached Tim Rivelli, Associated Student Government Vice President, with the idea of starting a dance marathon at Northwestern. Tim and Jan met with representatives of the American Epilepsy Foundation and the Dance Marathon was born. Tim's fraternity, ATO, took charge of the operation and ran the dance marathon.
Twenty-one couples danced for NUDM in 1975. It was called the "Dance to Give Them a Chance" marathon then, and it benefited the American Epilepsy Foundation and the National Association for Retarded Citizens. Fifteen couples made it through the fifty-two-hour marathon, raising $9,105 at Blomquist Memorial Gymnasium. The winning couple, Donna Miller and Tony Krileff, was sponsored by Bobb Hall and a local liquor store.
NUDM 1976 saw a new venue as the dancing was moved to Patten Gym and the dancing time was lessened to twenty-six hours. When the sponsor decided to discontinue the event after two years, Triangle Fraternity picked up the mantle and looked for a venue where other fund-raising events were possible. In 1977, NUDM found its current home: the Norris University Center, where students have been dancing for thirty hours at a time ever since. To institutionalize the event for the long haul and ensure a continuing flow of good ideas from students, organizers turned it into a campus-wide charitable event.
Special events to raise extra money for the cause were added over the years, like the NUDM Spa, where manicures and haircuts are given in Norris during the weekend of NUDM. Other events take place to keep the rest of the campus involved while the dancers are busy, such as a DDR tournament and performances by on-campus groups.
Chicago's The Second City comedy troupe paid a visit in 1984. Since that time, popular bands and performers have been a highlight of the weekend of, including Northwestern alumnus Jay Sims, who has been DJing a portion of the event every year since 1996. NUDM has attracted the attention of celebrities such Barack Obama, George and Barbara Bush, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Adam Sandler, the cast of Modern Family, and NU alumni David Schwimmer, Seth Meyers, and Mike Greenberg. Chicago celebrities, like former mayor Jane Byrne and Chicago Bears players Mike Tomczak, Keith Van Horne and Trace Armstrong, have also danced.
List of NUDM Primary Beneficiaries
|Year||Beneficiary||Total Raised (USD)|
|2019||Communities In Schools of Chicago|
|2018||Cradles to Crayons||$1,175,709|
|2016||Blessings in a Backpack||$1,201,216|
|2015||Starlight Children’s Foundation Midwest||$1,130,979|
|2013||The Danny Did Foundation||$1,214,632|
|2012||The Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation||$1,107,670|
|2011||Children's Heart Foundation||$1,019,130|
|2010||StandUp for Kids||$854,396|
|2007||Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy||$708,711|
|2006||Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative (PACPI)||$686,377|
|2005||Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation||$625,131|
|2003||Chicago Urban Youth Scholarship Fund||$462,613|
|2002||Little Heroes Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (formerly known as Friends for Steven)||$492,000|
|2001||Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation||$540,257|
|2000||Gilda's Club Chicago||$537,645|
|1999||Children's Heart Foundation||$450,833|
|1998||La Rabida Children's Hospital and Research Center||$431,524|
|1997||Hope for Gus Foundation||$405,563|
|1996||Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Illinois||$315,143|
|1995||Pediatrics AIDS Ward of Children's Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children's Hospital)||$301,023|
|1994||Leukemia Research Foundation||$250,258|
|1993||American Heart Association||$200,438|
|1992||American Diabetes Association||$273,000|
|1990||The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society||$136,300|
|1989||The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (formerly The Leukemia Society of America)||$112,628|
|1988||Howard Brown Health Center||$112,734|
|1987||Cystic Fibrosis Foundation||$112,628|
|1985||United Cerebral Palsy||$86,242|
|1983||Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation||$66,089|
|1982||National Multiple Sclerosis Society||$60,428|
|1980||Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (formerly the Chicago Lung Association)||$33,100|
|1979||United Cerebral Palsy||$30,000|
|1978||United Way of Metropolitan Chicago||$26,507|
|1977||American Epilepsy Foundation||$22,000|
|1976||American Epilepsy Foundation and the National Association for Retarded Citizens||$9,573|
|1975||American Epilepsy Foundation and the National Association for Retarded Citizens||$9,105|
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