Northwestern University Dance Marathon

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Northwestern University
Dance Marathon
Abbreviation NUDM
Formation 1975 (1975)
Purpose Philanthropy
Website Official website

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,[1] NUDM is one of the nation's most established and largest entirely student-run philanthropies.[citation needed] 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,[1] and involves over 1,000 students participating as dancers and committee members. Since 1997, the Evanston Community Foundation has been NUDM's secondary beneficiary.

Recent marathons[edit]


In May 2016, GiGi's Playhouse was announced as the primary beneficiary for NUDM 2017.[2] 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.[3] 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,[4] 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[5] 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[6] to fund research to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This remains the highest total ever raised for the event.


Forty-three years ago, Dance Marathon, the philanthropic child of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and the Associated Student Government, was born on the Northwestern University campus.[1]

NUDM in 1988

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.[1]

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.[1]

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,[7] 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.[1]

In 2011, NUDM was named The Most Influential College Organization at the 2011 Stay Classy Awards after its record-breaking year.[8][9]

List of NUDM Primary Beneficiaries[edit]

Year Beneficiary Total Raised (USD)
2019 Communities In Schools of Chicago
2018 Cradles to Crayons $1,175,709[10]
2017 GiGi's Playhouse[11] $1,253,596
2016 Blessings in a Backpack[12] $1,201,216
2015 Starlight Children’s Foundation Midwest[13] $1,130,979
2014 Team Joseph[14] $1,385,273
2013 The Danny Did Foundation[15] $1,214,632
2012 The Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation[16] $1,107,670
2011 Children's Heart Foundation $1,019,130
2010 StandUp for Kids[17] $854,396
2009 Project Kindle[18] $917,834
2008 Bear Necessities[19] $933,855
2007 Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy[20] $708,711
2006 Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative (PACPI)[21] $686,377
2005 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation $625,131
2004 Have Dreams[22] $461,294
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[23] $540,257
2000 Gilda's Club Chicago[24] $537,645
1999 Children's Heart Foundation $450,833[25]
1998 La Rabida Children's Hospital and Research Center $431,524
1997 Hope for Gus Foundation[26] $405,563
1996 Make-A-Wish Foundation of Northern Illinois[27] $315,143
1995 Pediatrics AIDS Ward of Children's Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children's Hospital) $301,023
1994 Leukemia Research Foundation[28] $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
1986 Easter Seals $90,021
1985 United Cerebral Palsy[29] $86,242
1984 Easter Seals $76,663
1983 Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation $66,089
1982 National Multiple Sclerosis Society $60,428
1981 Arthritis Foundation $42,000
1980 Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (formerly the Chicago Lung Association) $33,100
1979 United Cerebral Palsy[29] $30,000
1978 United Way of Metropolitan Chicago $26,507
1977 American Epilepsy Foundation $22,000[30]
1976 American Epilepsy Foundation and the National Association for Retarded Citizens $9,573[31]
1975 American Epilepsy Foundation and the National Association for Retarded Citizens $9,105[32]
Total $20,529,533


  1. ^ a b c d e f "About NUDM - Northwestern University Dance Marathon". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  2. ^ McKeon, Shane. "GiGi's Playhouse named Dance Marathon's 2017 beneficiary". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  3. ^ "About Us". 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  5. ^ "NUDM 2016 raises $1.2 million for beneficiaries". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  6. ^ "40th Dance Marathon Raises Record $1.3 Million: Northwestern University News". Retrieved 2016-09-29. 
  7. ^ "NUDM 2013: Modern Family". Vimeo. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  8. ^ "The 10 Biggest College Fundraisers". thebestcolleges. The Best Colleges. 2012-12-20. 
  9. ^ "Northwestern University Dance Marathon Raises Over $1 Million For Charity (PHOTOS)". The Huffington Post., Inc. 2012-03-05. 
  10. ^ Marathon, NU Dance (10:36 PM - 10 Mar 2018). "#NUDM 2018 has raised $1,175,709.82 to #GrowTogether for @C2CChicago and @EvanstonForever!". @nudm. Retrieved 2018-03-11.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ "GiGis Playhouse - Down Syndrome Achievement Centers". GiGis Playhouse - Down Syndrome Achievement Centers. 
  12. ^ "Homepage - Blessings in a Backpack". Blessings in a Backpack. 
  13. ^ Starlight Children’s Foundation Midwest "starlight - STARLIGHT" Check |url= value (help). STARLIGHT. 
  14. ^ "Team Joseph". 
  15. ^ "Advancing Awareness of Epilepsy & SUDEP | Danny Did Foundation". 
  16. ^ "B+ Foundation". B+. 
  17. ^ "StandUp For Kids | Helping homeless and street kids every day in cities across America". 
  18. ^ Inc., Project Kindle,. "PROJECT KINDLE - Project Kindle, Inc". Project Kindle, Inc. 
  19. ^ "Bear Necessities - Non-profit Pediatric Cancer Foundation". Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. 
  20. ^ "CURE Epilepsy: Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy". 
  21. ^ "PACPI – Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative". PACPI – Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative. 
  22. ^ "Home - Have Dreams". Have Dreams. 
  23. ^ "Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation". Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. 
  24. ^ "Gilda's Club Chicago". 
  25. ^ "Dance Marathon". Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Hope For Gus Foundation | Funding Research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy". 
  27. ^ "Make-A-Wish® Illinois". Make-A-Wish® Illinois. 
  28. ^ "Home | Leukemia Research Foundation". 
  29. ^ a b "United Cerebral Palsy". 
  30. ^ "Northwestern University Sesquicentennial". Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  31. ^ "Upsilon | Kappapedia". Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Dance Marathon". Retrieved March 24, 2017. 

External links[edit]