Dance Marathon primary beneficiary’s namesake visits Northwestern


Joseph Diebold/Daily Senior Staffer

Joseph Penrod, the 10-year-old namesake of Dance Marathon primary beneficiary Team Joseph, visited Northwestern on Sunday, surprising the DM executive board during a meeting.

Paulina Firozi, Development Editor

Not much has changed for Dance Marathon since last month, when it picked the 2014 beneficiary, Team Joseph, an organization that aims to treat or cure Duchenne muscular dystrophy. But Joseph Penrod, the foundation’s 10-year-old namesake, is one step closer to becoming a part of the Wildcat family.

“I like purple and white now,” Joseph said Sunday afternoon, when he and his mother, Marissa Penrod, visited campus for the first time together.

Wearing an entirely green outfit and a Michigan State T-shirt, Joseph drove around with his electronic scooter, doing laps around the McCormick Tribune Center Forum, which he called his new favorite room on campus. They waited there before walking over to Norris University Center to surprise the DM executive board during its weekly meeting.

Marissa Penrod said opportunities like this are ways the organization can remain very involved with the DM process despite being based in Detroit.

“We knew that it was the last Dance Marathon meeting before the summer, so we thought it would be really fun for the committee to meet Joseph,” she said. “We wanted to send them off with a great deal of inspiration for what’s going to really happen in September as they hit the ground running.”

Marissa Penrod said the most important thing she has realized since joining forces with DM is that for Team Joseph, “Northwestern is the right organization, it’s the right time.”

“I know that my motivation is always strong because I’m Joseph’s mom, so that is always there,” she said. “But my level of belief in other people contributing to our cause, through the backing of Dance Marathon, is growing exponentially. This is proof that if you tell the story, the Duchenne story, people will respond.”

DM executive co-chair Anna Radoff said the visit was a great way to keep up momentum around the cause before the end of the school year.

“As an executive board, you can get excited about a lot of aspects of DM, but before summer it’s a hard time to get people excited about something that’s happening so far away,” the Weinberg junior said. “But I think them being here is going to give them a lot of great energy.”

Josh Parish, also DM executive co-chair, said Joseph had a smile on his face during the meeting, giving a face to the cause.

“He’s such a cool and confident kid,” the SESP junior said. “Even outside the context of DM, it puts so much perspective going into finals week, to just take a step back and think about how fortunate I am and how tough some people and some families are.”