Dance Marathon wins Classy Award for philanthropic success

Kris Anne Bonifacio

Northwestern’s Dance Marathon won $10,000 on Sunday after being recognized as the nation’s Most Influential College Organization in the Classy Awards held in San Diego.

NUDM beat out nine other finalists for the prestigious award. Classy Awards is the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country. StayClassy, an organization that provides fundraising and communication tools to nonprofit organizations, sponsors the Classy Awards, which is now in its third year.

Classy Awards also gives awards in 11 other categories for charities, individuals, organizations and even businesses.

NUDM officials announced late July that they were one of the 25 national finalists for the Most Influential College Student or Organization.

“We saw it as a fantastic opportunity to not only keep fighting childhood cancer but demonstrate to everyone the unity of the student body,” Maura Brannigan, public relations co-chair for DM 2012’s executive board, told the Daily last July.

The finalists were put to a vote online on Facebook, and the top-10 nominees with the most votes moved on to the next round. A panel of judges then chose the winner.

“We tried to use as many resources as we could,” said Sourav Bhowmick, public relations co-chair. “Facebook and Twitter were really helpful to us in trying to get ahead of our competition. We also spent some time writing letters to family and friends.”

NUDM was up against other dance marathon organizations, including University of Connecticut’s HuskyTHON and Indiana University’s Dance Marathon.

“A lot of our campaign was to differentiate ourselves from them,” Bhowmick said.

According to the Classy Awards website, the Most Influential College Student or Organization award is given to the nominee that, “has most powerfully put the idealism of energy of youth to work in service of others. The winner of this Classy Award will demonstrate a willingness to think big, to take on important social challenges, and to do so with an unflappable belief in the individual’s ability to effect dramatic change.”

Last year, The DREAM Program, Inc. of Boston won the award. DREAM is a youth-based village mentoring organization first founded by Dartmouth College students in 1999.

Both Brannigan and Bhowmick said what sets them apart from other candidates was DM’s ability to unite NU students.

“We are a small campus, and we bring together 1,500 students every year,” Bhowmick said. “There were a lot of other great charities that have done great things, but DM is something special. It has a rich history, it benefits a lot of great causes, and there is a lot of dedication from dancers, committee members, family and friends to make it happen. That’s something a lot of people like to see.”

DM Executive Co-Chairs Kunal Joshi and Scott Ritter attended the awards ceremony in San Diego on Saturday evening.

The $10,000 prize will go towards DM 2012’s fundraising. The beneficiary this year is The Andrew McDonough B+ (Be Positive) Foundation, which funds medical research for childhood cancers.

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