Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NUDM celebrates 50th anniversary, raises over $340,000 for charity

NUDM+celebrated+50+years+of+fundraising+this+weekend+at+Welsh-Ryan+Arena.
The Daily Northwestern/Sam McLain
NUDM celebrated 50 years of fundraising this weekend at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

After 15 hours of dancing, “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen played over the speakers to close out the 50th Northwestern University Dance Marathon. Battling sleep deprivation and fatigue, hundreds of student dancers stood up for the Saturday morning encore, raising their hands to celebrate an unforgettable night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

NUDM is one of the largest student-run philanthropy organizations in the U.S., raising over $23 million for more than 40 different charities over its 50 year history. This year, NUDM raised $342,138 for primary beneficiary Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and secondary beneficiary the Evanston Community Foundation.

“It’s a great year for the Dance Marathon to be celebrating 50 years of supporting communities … through their fundraising efforts and raising awareness for nonprofits,” said RMHC-CNI CEO Holly Buckendahl. “Ronald McDonald House Charities as a system turns 50 this year too, so it was really a great moment where we could celebrate together the great work that we do impacting the lives of children and families.”

According to Buckendahl and Megan Kuehl, director of corporate and foundation relations at RMHC-CNI and NUDM’s charity liaison, when a child has an illness, it affects the whole family. 

RMHC-CNI helps provide families with housing and support while their children are receiving care. Kuehl said the charity does not want families to worry about cost or travel barriers when considering a life-saving treatment for their children.

As NUDM’s primary beneficiary, RMHC-CNI will receive 90% of the fundraising proceeds. The other 10% will go to Evanston Community Foundation, which works to build a more equitable Evanston by awarding grants and endowment funds to individuals, families and community organizations. NUDM has donated over $1 million to ECF since their partnership began in 1997.

Sol Anderson, president and CEO of ECF, opened the event Friday night. He praised the NUDM executive board’s commitment to rebuild the club “bigger, better and stronger” after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Weinberg senior and NUDM Director of Operations Kelsey Norton estimated about 900 people signed up to dance this year.

“It was amazing to see so many students come out,” she said. “(These were) the best numbers we’ve had since COVID, which was really encouraging, and we had really high retention throughout the entire 15 hours.”

Norton and Weinberg senior Grace Dyer, NUDM executive director, both said they think student participation increased because of changes made to NUDM’s format this year. To make NUDM more accessible this year, the organization experimented with shortening the dancing window from 30 hours to 15 and scheduling NUDM to be the first weekend of Spring Quarter, when student workloads would be less intense.

Dyer said NUDM surveyed dancers and non-participants for feedback on last year’s event. She said the responses indicated students wanted NUDM to be shorter and held a different weekend, so it didn’t conflict with studying for Winter Quarter finals. 

Due to construction on Norris University Center’s East Lawn — NUDM’s usual location — the executive board also decided to move the event to Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“The energy in Welsh-Ryan Arena was really exciting and high,” Norton said. “I think moving it in there was well-received.” 

Communication senior and fourth-time dancer Charlotte Furie said the format changes made staying up and dancing the whole time easier.

Weinberg senior and third-time dancer Nina Petrouski said the new timeline encouraged participation and improved fundraising efforts.

“Having the engagement here really boosts everyone’s energy and gets people motivated to donate even more,” Petrouski said.

Dyer said the NUDM executive board has already begun working on next year’s event. She said they hope to announce next year’s beneficiary by the start of June.

Though Dyer and Norton will graduate this spring, both said they are proud of the way NUDM has adapted and are excited to see what the next 50 years for the organization will bring.

“We’re at the point that we get to see what worked and what didn’t, and hopefully next year the executive board will get to keep the things that were positive changes and keep making changes of their own,” Dyer said. “I just think (NUDM 2024) was a really incredible way to leave a meaningful impact on Northwestern.”

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Related Stories: 

NUDM unveils revamped, 15-hour Dance Marathon to be held in Welsh-Ryan Arena

NUDM names Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana as 2024 primary beneficiary

Northwestern University Dance Marathon hosts 30 hours of festivities, raises more than $400,000 for charity

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