Dance Marathon raises $674,375 for Compass to Care, Evanston Community Foundation


Photo courtesy of Cady De Camara

NUDM Emcees, Samara Lipman (left) and Ed Crandall, hold up the final total check after the three-day virtual event. The money fundraised will be given to Compass to Care and the Evanston Community Foundation.

Sheena Tan, Assistant Audio Editor

The 47th annual Northwestern University Dance Marathon raised over $674,000 this weekend on behalf of Compass to Care, a Chicago nonprofit providing travel assistance for children in need of cancer treatment, and Evanston Community Foundation.

Instead of dancing in a tent outside Norris University Center, students engaged in a three-day event on event technology platform Hopin. Programming included a trivia night, yoga class and a performance by Chicago-based improvisational theater troupe The Second City.

Despite the differences in setting, the essence of the celebratory weekend remained, Cady De Camara, a Weinberg junior and NUDM productions co-chair, said. 

“It’s hard to replicate the magic of everybody being in one space, but we knew that we could give people an experience that was still worth looking forward to and tuning into,” De Camara said. 

SESP senior and NUDM productions co-chair Jillian Korey said the programming was chosen with the virtual format in mind.

The 30 hours traditionally experienced altogether were divided throughout the weekend instead. Korey said the intention was to relieve Zoom fatigue.

“We tried to really do a variety of activities to still kind of have that party celebration atmosphere,” Korey said. “We didn’t really want people to continually feel like they were sitting in front of a computer screen.”

Though many NUDM traditions weren’t possible in a remote setting, there were benefits to the virtual format. For example, without the limitation of location, engagement increased. 

NUDM Executive Co-Chair Cami Steppe said members of the Evanston community, as well as alumni and parents from all over the country, could participate in this year’s event. 

“We were able to invite more people that we just normally aren’t, because of security reasons in the tent,” Steppe said. “We were able to just invite pretty much anyone and everyone that wanted to come.”

Alumni in particular were more engaged. Weinberg senior and NUDM executive co-chair Ayesha Goswamy, said virtual engagement, like alumni Jeopardy night, will continue in future years.

“A lot of our alumni usually fly in to see the tent during the weekend-of. But obviously, that’s not very accessible for all of our alumni,” Goswamy said. “I think involving the greater community can definitely be done on a virtual platform going forward.”

NUDM members said they were proud of how they had been able to adapt to the changes this year. Next year, they are looking forward to returning to more in-person programming. 

The event concluded with a final count of fundraised money, which De Camara called the most special moment of the experience.

“Bringing that check in, and knowing that that number was the culmination of so much hard work, and we had really just pulled off an event that literally hadn’t existed before I think that was when it really hit me,” De Camara said. “I don’t think it is something I’ll ever forget.”


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