Dance Marathon sets registration record, tops 1,500 registrants

Paige Leskin, Reporter

Dance Marathon received a record-breaking number of registrants for 2014, with more than 1,500 students signing up for the university’s largest philanthropic event.

Registration for the 40th annual DM, a 30-hour fundraiser, took place last week. Executive co-chair Anna Radoff said the organization was able to raise its numbers with an expanded advertising effort and funds from Associated Student Government.

“(The money) will make Dance Marathon more accessible financially,” said Radoff, a Weinberg senior.

The $4,000 in ASG-approved funds helped sponsor dancer registration costs. The money, which DM said 137 students applied for, will be used to supplement the Student Activities Scholarship Fund. Staff from the Center for Student Involvement will be responsible for distributing the money. Due to the late arrival of the scholarships, DM is also offering late registration through Wednesday.

The philanthropy has set registration records for last three years, with an increase of about 100 dancers each year.

The excitement surrounding DM has spread to freshmen on campus, who have never experienced the event before. Weinberg freshman Jeffrey Kim heard about it from counselors on his pre-orientation trip, CATalyst, and decided it was something he needed to do.

“It’s an essential part of the Northwestern experience,” he said. “Plus, it’s a personal challenge to do anything for 30 hours straight.”

Executive co-chair Josh Parish, a SESP senior, attributed the steady spread of DM’s popularity to the network of people who get the word out about the event. He called DM a “staple Northwestern tradition” that people just “grip on to.”

In addition to the highest number of participants in DM’s history, the organization has the highest number of committee members ever involved in planning the event.

Medill freshman Tori Latham said she joined the food committee after friends told her DM was the one thing she had to be a part of.

“It seems like such a large part of the Northwestern culture,” she said.

This year, the event will benefit Team Joseph and the Evanston Community Foundation. Team Joseph is a nonprofit organization that supports research to find a cure or treatment for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It was started in 2008 by Marissa Penrod, whose son Joseph was diagnosed with Duchenne when he was 5 years old.

Radoff said DM already has plans for linking Team Joseph with the philanthropy’s Hero Program. Dancers will connect with some of the young boys affected by Duchenne. The program is intended to get dancers to understand the disease and the benefit of Team Joseph and DM.

Unlike some other philanthropic events, much of the fundraising for the beneficiaries at DM is done before the event takes place. Parish said he likes that DM is not traditional in that sense.

“People still come together to dance after the money is raised,” he said.

Parish emphasized how hard the committees have worked to reach this registration number and calls their efforts a success. He said DM’s importance comes from helping students to learn about the different causes for which the organization raises money and unites people under a single message.

“NUDM brings together people from all different walks of life,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the relationship between the new ASG-funded scholarships and the Student Activities Scholarship Fund. The headline has also been updated to reflect that DM has had more than 1,500 registrants in the past. The Daily regrets the errors.

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