Zachary Elvove, son of Northwestern DM founder, poised to join 120 hour club


Source: Zachary Elvove

Zachary Elvove, left, stands with friends at Dance Marathon. Elvove, whose dad helped bring DM to Northwestern in 1975, has raised more than $6,500 throughout the past three years for DM.

Erica Snow, Reporter

When Zachary Elvove’s dad flew out to visit him two years ago at Dance Marathon, he wasn’t given just any visitor pass — his nametag read “Founder.”

Now a Weinberg senior, Zachary Elvove has participated in DM since 2013, which has become a family tradition for him and his dad, Roy Elvove (Communication ‘75, Medill ‘76).  

Roy Elvove had helped bring the first DM to Northwestern in 1975 when dancers registered as couples and competed to raise the most money and win a spot at the National Dance Marathon Finals at the University of Illinois. Once Zachary Elvove completes his last dance this March, the family will have racked up more than 150 hours of dancing.

“It wasn’t until the second year when he came back when he had one of the IDs that said ‘Founder,’” Zachary Elvove said. “He never really thought of it as him being a founder of DM. He just thought of him as doing it. He didn’t think of himself as one of the people that helped found it.”

Zachary Elvove is ranked as the 10th highest contributor to this year’s DM and has raised more than $6,500 from freshman to junior year, DM finance co-chair Alicia Kranjc said. The “multigenerational effect” is evident through the two men’s fundraising and advocacy, the McCormick senior said.

In the 41 years since Roy Elvove and his peers helped bring DM to Northwestern, more than $16 million has been raised for more than 30 charities. At the first event Roy Elvove’s senior year, then called “Dance to Give Them a Chance,” 15 of 21 couples danced the entire program.

“If you asked us then what this event would eventually become, I think anybody involved would’ve been absolutely clueless,” Roy Elvove said. “We would have no idea how big, or how long or how sustained this event would become. You do something because you think it’s a right thing to do, period. And that’s why we did it.”

Roy Elvove said he had no idea if the first DM would be a success. Everything about the event, organized by Alpha Tau Omega and Associated Student Government, was a challenge, he said. The challenges ranged from booking live entertainment like Frank Sinatra Jr. to securing sponsorships and spreading the word.

Besides raising more than $9,000, the event allowed students to help others, Roy Elvove said, which was also important to him.

“I am absolutely in awe of what the Dance Marathon has evolved into at Northwestern,” he said. “It speaks volumes to the students who go to the University because it’s their passion and their commitment that has enabled this thing to survive and thrive over the years.”

Roy Elvove served as the public relations director for the first DM, creating flyers and reaching out to the Northwestern community. About four decades later, his son served on the public relations committee for his first three DMs. This year, Zachary Elvove will be dancing with the Sigma Phi Epsilon team after three years of dancing with the Public Affairs Residential College team.

Aiming to raise more than $4,000 this year, Zachary Elvove aims to become part of the 120 Hour Club, the group of seniors — 95 this year — who have participated in DM for four consecutive years.

Raising money is not enough, though, he said. He said he wants to raise awareness of childhood hunger for this year’s primary beneficiary, Blessings in a Backpack, because malnourishment can lead to development issues.

“Hunger is something that people don’t think about in the United States,” he said. “Maybe you could’ve gotten to Northwestern, but because you were malnourished, maybe your brain didn’t develop enough.”

Zachary Elvove’s hard work and attention to detail can be useful during DM, but also in outside organizations like NU Model United Nations, said Ajay Nadig, secretary general of NUMUN. He said Zachary Elvove’s initiative in NUMUN, where he serves as its chief of staff, complements his own leadership of the student group.

“I need a Zach because I have a lot of new ideas and new directions to take the organization in, but I need a Zach there to help me keep things tethered down and help me keep things practical,” the Weinberg junior said.

Besides volunteering during DM in the spring, Zachary Elvove was also involved in the peer mentoring program Eye to Eye to empower students with learning disabilities. He said by working with students, he could show them they could still attend NU despite having a learning disability.

Zachary Elvove’s volunteering and generosity impresses his dad, who added that DM gives him an excuse to visit his son at NU. Roy Elvove will be traveling to Evanston in March for Zachary’s last DM. Although he knows the date is coming close, Zachary Elvove said he doesn’t know how he’ll feel when he finishes his 120th hour of dancing.

“That’s very difficult to put into words to know how proud I am to know that I have a son who embodies all that is good, who’s embodying that sense of caring and wanting to help others,” Roy Elvove said. “That’s an incredible legacy — to have a child that wants to make the world a better place.”

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