Northwestern University Dance Marathon

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Northwestern University
Dance Marathon
Abbreviation NUDM
Formation 1975
Purpose Philanthropy

The Northwestern University Dance Marathon, commonly known as NUDM, is a philanthropic dance marathon held every March at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Currently in its 42nd year, NUDM is one of the nation’s most established and largest entirely student-run philanthropies, with close to 2000+ dancers and committee members (about 25% of the undergraduate student body) participating annually in the event. It is also one of the only annual Dance Marathons in the country to continually change its primary beneficiary in order to maximize impact. In 2016, NUDM will support Blessings in a Backpack, is a leading childhood hunger organization that mobilizes communities, individuals and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America. In partnering with Blessings in a Backpack, NUDM will look to make 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. For the 19th consecutive year, the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) will be NUDM’s secondary beneficiary to honor the close relationship between Northwestern and the city of Evanston.

Last year, 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. In 2011, NUDM was named The Most Influential College Organization at the 2011 Stay Classy Awards.[1][2]


Forty-two years ago, Dance Marathon, the philanthropic child of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and the Associated Student Government, was born on the Northwestern University campus.

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.[3]

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.[4]

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. NUDM has attracted the attention of celebrities such Barack Obama, George and Barbara Bush, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Adam Sandler, the cast of Modern Family,[5] 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.[6]


  1. ^ "The 10 Biggest College Fundraisers". thebestcolleges. The Best Colleges. 2012-12-20. 
  2. ^ "Northwestern University Dance Marathon Raises Over $1 Million For Charity (PHOTOS)". The Huffington Post., Inc. 2012-03-05. 
  3. ^ NUDM. "About".
  4. ^ NUDM. "About".
  5. ^
  6. ^ NUDM. "About".

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