Dance Marathon 2014: Block 10 recap

Paulina Firozi, Editor in Chief

Dancers ran into the tent for the final time this weekend, and started Block 10 holding hands. By the time the final seconds of Dance Marathon counted down, everyone in the tent was again embracing one another, celebrating the end of 30 hours and the final fundraising reveal of $1,385,273.

This year’s fundraising total topped the previous year’s by $170,641.

But just two hours earlier, Marissa Penrod, founder of primary beneficiary Team Joseph, told the crowd that at the end of the experience, it wasn’t just about the financial numbers.

“This is not just about the numbers that show up on that board in a little while,” Penrod said. “This is about your heart, your spirit and your soul, and this is about the wind you put in the sails of Team Joseph and our fight against Duchenne.”

As balloons fell from the roof of the tent, the emotion was palpable as dancers, DM representatives and the two beneficiaries shed tears and reflected on nine months of planning and fundraising, culminating in 30 hours of dancing.

A check for $931,289.21 was presented to Penrod.

The Evanston Community Foundation, which celebrated its 17th year as the organization’s secondary beneficiary, was given $103,476.58.

Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president for student engagement, called DM one of the “most special moments we have at Northwestern.”

He said Penrod’s speech reminded everyone in the tent of the cause they were representing.

“It’s personal, it’s heartfelt, and it really hits home as to why people are doing this,” he said. “It’s amazing the gratefulness she expressed on behalf of her family and these other boys, it really brings it home.”

The finance committee, which presented fundraising goals and milestones throughout the night, also revealed the totals of the team and individual fundraising leaders.

As they have for the past few years, the Delta Gamma/Zeta Beta Tau team topped the large-group category, this year raising a record-breaking $154,319.34. Alpha Chi Omega/Alpha Epsilon Pi took the top medium-sized group spot, raising $31,017.49, and Project Wildcat raised $18,399.94, topping the small-group category.

John Gallagher raised $6,740 as the highest non-committee fundraiser and Sam McQuillan was the highest committee member individual fundraiser, raising $8,381.85.

Medill sophomore Elyse Samuels, one of Delta Gamma’s DM directors, said it was important for the DG/ZBT team to get to know the Penrod family and put a face to the cause the dancers were working toward.

“A feeling we had up until DM, during DM and after DM is just such a sense of pride to be part of a team that does care so much,” she said. “To be part of something bigger than yourself, as Marissa said.”

Earlier in the block, the executive board presented the second White House video of the night.

Cody Keenan (Weinberg ’02) talked about the many NU alums who work at the White House and many of them, as well as Vice President Joe Biden, encouraged the dancers with their own “Go Cats.”

Marissa Penrod took the stage teary-eyed and the emotional executive co-chairs handed her a check in front of the roaring crowd.

“They say that there is no love like the love a mother has for her children,” she said, “but what I feel for this executive board and for all of you comes really close to that.”

Rebecca Savransky and Ava Wallace contributed reporting.

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