Two of a kind

Becky Bowman

When Weinberg seniors David Sears and Robbie Paymer showed up for their Dance Marathon emcee audition, they were prepared. They wore their good luck headbands and wristbands and recited the mission statement of this year’s charity in alternating sentences.

“All their jaws just kind of dropped,” Sears said of the DM leaders who judged the auditions.

But Sears and Paymer didn’t stop at mere memorization – they went on to tell the DM leaders why they thought Friends for Steven was a worthy cause for DM to sponsor, a move that garnered them the spot as emcees, DM leaders said.

“They know so much about the organization,” said Michelle Madigan, a Medill senior and DM co-chairwoman. “They could probably tell you more about it then I could.

“They’re in it for the right reasons,” she said. “They’re not in it just to be the emcees.”

Madigan said the pair listed many of the same reasons the executive board had chosen Friends for Steven, including its Chicago-area location and the fact that it was founded by an NU alumnus and former DM dancer. That knowledge will help the two to represent DM effectively to the rest of campus, she said.

Paymer and Sears also exhibited a lot of energy as friends, Madigan said.

“It’s cool because they’re such good friends,” she said. “You can tell that they really get along. They feed off each other a lot in their routines.”

Paymer and Sears said they are pumped for the year ahead. They have been planning the DM programming since last March, they said. Sears said he decided not to write his senior thesis in history so he could commit more time to DM and its charity.

Friends for Steven raises funds for research of treatments for neuroblastoma, a complex and aggressive form of pediatric cancer. The organization was founded in 1999 by Beth Newkirk in honor of her son Steven, who died shortly after his eighth birthday because of complications from treatments for the cancer.

In order to get involved with the charity, one DM committee will volunteer in the oncology ward of Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and members of committees will trick-or-treat Wednesday with neuroblastoma patients and their parents.

Before trick-or-treating, Paymer and Sears will attend a dinner with the children and parents. Since they have work and class to attend that night, however, the two won’t be able to help the kids corral some candy.

Trick-or-treating will be one of few DM commitments the two won’t make. Last year they danced in DM together after spending the year raising the $750 fee.

The two also spent a long time preparing for their audition. While other students stayed dry inside after the sloppy and wet Northwestern football game against visiting Minnesota on Oct. 13, Paymer and Sears ventured to Harris Hall at 11 p.m. for a last-minute rehearsal before their Sunday audition. The rain soaked their shoes, so they danced barefoot, their boom box blasting, announcing the merits of Friends for Steven to an empty room.

On the Tuesday after their audition, the pair received notice that they would be called back. Because they had heard emcee candidates sometimes are woken in the middle of the night for callbacks, the two stayed up all night at Sears’ house, unable to sleep under the anticipation of the call.

At about 3 a.m., Sears received a phone call. He and Paymer were summoned to the basement of Gamma Phi Beta to entertain committee members who played the part of “tired and cranky dancers,” Sears said. The task was to energize and motivate the “dancers.”

“We gave a little session in proper air guitar form and function,” he said. “It went over pretty well.”

Several hours later, after Sears and Paymer had returned to their homes, DM committee members showered Sears with confetti at his door and told him the good news. The group then went to tell Paymer, who still had not slept.

“It was one of the most exciting moments of my college career,” Paymer said.

Paymer and Sears say they have no worries about staying awake for the 30 hours of DM, since they often stay up all night to write papers or finish projects. In fact, they hope to use any breaks they have during DM to join the dancers on the floor.

Sears said there is only one thing he doesn’t like about being an emcee.

“I guess I can’t shake my booty for all 30 hours,” he lamented.