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Northwestern students continue fundraising efforts to meet Dance Marathon half-money deadline

Stephanie Yang

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Dance Marathon participants are boosting fundraising efforts to meet the half-money deadline of Jan. 24, at which time they should have turned in $200 to dance in Northwestern’s largest fundraising event.

DM has been an NU tradition since 1975, when students raised $9,100 for two charities during the first dancing event. Last year’s fundraiser raised more than $1 million – the first time it has done so – for The Children’s Heart Foundation. In September, the Classy Awards, a philanthropic awards ceremony, named DM its Most Influential College Organization.

This year, DM organizers have chosen The Andrew McDonough Be Positive (B+) Foundation, which fights childhood cancer, as the primary beneficiary. The event will take place on March 2.

Sourav Bhowmick, DM public relations chair, said this year’s event is off to a “great start,” setting attendance records at many fundraising events, including weekly trivia nights at Buffalo Wild Wings and a scavenger hunt.

Bhowmick, who has been involved with DM for four years, referenced the turnout at the annual beneficiary holiday party – about 200 to 250 people – as another indication of the organization’s growing strength. The Weinberg senior said the figure was “much more than we’ve had in past years.”

“Everything has been running according to plan,” he added.

Bhowmick said DM organizers want to keep the dancer retention rate as close to 100 percent as possible. However, they will know for sure how many people will dance only when the event arrives and all funds have been turned in.

Bhowmick said DM has always had dancers who have not adhered to the fundraising money deadlines, but DM will not disqualify any dancers who do not meet the $200 mark by Tuesday.

“The halfway deadline is more of a way for dancers to pace their fundraising,” Bhowmick said.

In the event that a dancer fails to turn in the $200, Bhowmick said the dancer will be contacted by a member of the DM finance team, and DM members will work to help the dancer meet the fundraising goal.

“We have been working very hard this year to make sure that all the people that want to be a part of DM are a part of DM,” he said.

Some freshmen have made individual efforts to raise money in unorthodox ways. Weinberg freshman Lauren Schneider has already received responses for her offer to deliver a spontaneous guitar serenade.

Schneider said she is charging between $5 and $10 per song, depending on the difficulty and how far she will have to walk. She said anyone who wants her to serenade someone may contact her with the location and song. She has already started learning a few songs and will continue the service until the week before DM.

McCormick freshman Ryan Yang created a Facebook event in an effort to raise money, and offered to do a polar plunge in a penguin suit if donations reached his goal. However, he said he has not had the response that he had hoped for.

“It’s not getting a whole lot of publicity,” Yang said.

With two donations, Yang said he does not think he will make the deadline by Tuesday, and he plans to submit his own money to cover it until he can raise more.

“I figured (fundraising) would be a challenge, but I didn’t really put a whole lot of time into it ­­­­­­­- as much as I should have,” Yang said.

The $400 fundraising requirement isn’t an obstacle for Yang alone. Lexi Osborn, who serves on DM’s Alumni and Community

Relations committee, said she thinks the goal may be high for some students, who might submit their own money in order to meet the January deadline.

The Weinberg freshman is also the DM chair for Jones Residential College. Last quarter, Osborn tried to arrange a meeting in which dancers in Jones gathered to write letters requesting donations, a tactic she used to raise more than $100 from family and friends. However, only about five out of more than 30 students signed up for DM showed up to the meeting.

“It’s really difficult (to get dancers organized) because people are so busy,” Osborn said.

Another popular option for fundraising is canning, both outside sporting events and throughout Evanston, but Osborn said she does not think that method is very effective. Dancers may can only at locations and times designated by DM organizers.

“It’s good to raise awareness for (Dance Marathon),” she said. “Overall it works pretty well, but … as an individual, you won’t get much money.”

Weinberg senior Chelsea Callahan said the permit rules for canning have posed an obstacle for some of the Kappa Kappa Gamma/Pi Kappa Alpha DM group’s fundraising efforts.

Callahan, Kappa’s DM chair, said she remembered going canning at the Westfield Shoppingtown Old Orchard Center, but she said she has heard of groups getting in trouble for canning without permits now.

One of Kappa’s largest fundraising efforts is the annual event Kappasta, Callahan said. In past years Kappasta has taken place in the kitchen at the Kappa house, where the sorority serves pasta and garlic bread, usually charging about $5 per ticket ahead of time.

The Kappa and Pike DM group won second place last year in the large group category.

“We’re hoping to keep that up for this year,” Callahan said.

Callahan said other fundraising tactics include trying to have dancers go to DM trivia every Wednesday, writing letters and going door-to-door in local neighborhoods.

“We’ve found that going door-to-door is pretty successful,” Callahan said.

She also said no dancers have dropped out of the group; in fact, new members have joined as a result of recruitment. Because the team is not as big as last year, Callahan said she is trying to involve the whole sorority.

“It helps to have dancers really invested in the cause and in fundraising,” she said.

McCormick freshman Lukas WinklerPrins said he is not concerned about reaching the fundraising goal. By the first week of Winter Quarter classes he had already raised his $400 “basically all over break and in the past few days,” he said.

But the first-year participant, who
contacted family members for donations and sold old clothes and textbooks to raise additional funds, said he worries about the physical task of dancing for 30 hours.

“I am going to have a really hard time because I have exercise-induced asthma, so I’m going to pound my inhaler and hope that I don’t get taken out on the stretcher,” he said.

Despite the physical challenge, WinklerPrins said he’s looking forward to participating in an NU tradition.

“I’m just kind of expecting a hot sweaty mess,” he said, “but at the same time it’s going to be a bonding experience that I know I’m going to be talking about.”

stephanieyang2015@u.northwestern.edu

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