Dance Marathon 2014: Block 1 recap

The first block of Dance Marathon 2014 started with encouragement from a familiar face: President Barack Obama, a surprise appearance that elicited screams and chants of “USA! USA!” when his face appeared on the screen.

Obama congratulated students on committing to 30 hours of dancing to benefit Team Joseph, the primary beneficiary of this year’s fundraiser, referencing his wife’s initiative to solve childhood obesity.

“Chicago is proud of you, and I’m proud of you,” Obama said in the 37-second video. “And I know Michelle would be proud of you, too. Thirty hours of dancing takes ‘Let’s Move!’ to a whole new level.”

Marissa Penrod, founder of Team Joseph, expressed her gratitude for the work NU students put in through the whole process and was proud Obama took the time to recognize the cause.

“It’s great to know Obama is on the Team,” Penrod said.

Before the start of Block 1, Penrod welcomed dancers to the tent and thanked them for all their efforts.

“Tonight, we dance,” Penrod said. “We dance for the kids who can’t so someday they can.”

University President Morton Schapiro entered the tent shortly after, expressing his appreciation for all of the dancers and joking about Obama’s video.

“I heard somebody sent in a video pretending to be president,” Schapiro said. “That really pisses me off, because I’m the president.”

Schapiro told The Daily the President’s recognition was a tribute to NU, and expressed how much he appreciated Obama taking the time to create a video for this year’s event.

Students’ energy was high through the whole block, specifically when Obama came on the screen.

“It was really cool,” Weinberg sophomore Stephanie Werner said. “Last year there were a lot of cool videos but nothing like this.”

Weinberg junior Lauren Wustenberg said she was looking forward to seeing the rest of the celebrity videos.

“What are they going to do to follow that up?” Wustenberg asked. “Normally, they save the best for last.”

Members of NU’s basketball team also came out to support and encourage the dancers during the block.

The block closed with the first fundraising update of the evening, when members of the finance committee announced DM had raised $18,130 by the beginning of the 2013-14 academic year.

Alice Yin contributed reporting.

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Twitter: @beccasavransky