Northwestern Dance Marathon boasts record 1,300 registrants

Ally Mutnick

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Registration for the 38th Northwestern University Dance Marathon closed Friday with a record-breaking 1,300 students signed up to participate, the public relations committee announced Sunday in an email press release.

The increase in dancer participation comes after a big year for NUDM. In 2011, the organization reached the $1-million fundraising mark and was named the Most Influential College Organization by the Classy Awards, the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country. This year’s event will run from March 2 to 4.

“I’ve been involved with DM for three years and this is definitely the biggest support system that I’ve seen since 2008,” said Medill senior Maura Brannigan, the 2012 public relations co-chair. “More people want to dance; more people want to get involved in this Northwestern tradition.”

This year, the more than 1,300 dancers are made up of 47 student groups and 125 independent dancers, compared to the 1,200 that registered last year.

“With a record number of dancers two years in a row, we can see how excited and motivated students are for DM,” Executive Co-chair and Weinberg senior Kunal Joshi said in the press release. “We’re seeing substantial, healthy growth in our organization, and I could not be happier that so many students want to be a part of a great Northwestern tradition.”

Communication junior Alison Ho plans to join the 90-hour club in her third year as a dancer. Ho, co-chair of the Communications Residential College team, said last year’s success helped spark interest for DM 2012.

“I do think the Classy Awards have something to do with it,” Ho said. “People see that it’s just so exciting and so many people are involved already, and they want to be a part of it too.”

Still, organizers aren’t just relying on last year’s reputation. This year, DM allowed students to register without a partner if students entered with a group of more than ten students. According to the press release, students in the group must raise $400 dollars individually while each pair must raise $800.

In past years, students had to drop out if their partner could not raise their part of the $800. Brannigan said the DM executive board created the new option of dancing in a group without a partner to encourage more students to continue participating in DM without having to rely on a partner to reach their fundraising goal.

“It’s a lot easier for the dancers themselves,” Brannigan said. “We wanted to keep the retention rate as high as we can.”

This year’s DM benefits the Andrew McDonough Be Positive Foundation, which funds medical research for childhood cancers and improvements in chemotherapy, according to the foundation’s website. NUDM’s secondary beneficiary is the Evanston Community Foundation.

Ho said she believes DM funds will be put to good use aiding children with cancer.

“Even just helping their families out with medical bills and helping out with the kids just having a normal life, it’s just so great to be a part of that,” she said.

For first-time dancer and Weinberg freshman Michell Kim, DM is a chance to start getting involved in community service. Kim said she registered to dance this year because she was interested in helping charitable causes like the Be Positive Foundation.

“I always want to help out the community and give back to it, but it’s always hard to find the opportunity,” Kim said. “When something like this is presented to you, it’s a really nice, fun way to give back.”

(Editor’s note: This article misspelled Alison Ho’s name. The article has been updated to reflect the correct spelling. The Daily regrets the error.)