Northwestern University Dance Marathon Raises Over $1 Million Despite Cancellation

Jim Gudas
March 11, 2020 - 10:29 am
Northwestern University
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EVANSTON, Ill. (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- This year’s dance marathon at Northwestern University still managed to raise more than a $1 million for charity, even though last weekend’s event was cancelled due to concerns about the coronavirus. 

Northwestern University Dance Marathon organizers announced Tuesday that the event raised $1,029,366.00 on behalf of Children’s Home & Aid and the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF). 

Sam Schmaier is a senior at Northwestern and Dance Marathon's Co-Chair of Marketing and Media. She said raising that much money, despite the cancellation is a testament of donors, participants, and alumni. 

"A lot of people donate prior to the event also. We started fundraising in October, pretty much, and have been ever since, so people have been donating along the way," she said.

She said three things helped raise more than $1 million: donations from alumni, a virtual marathon, and a group of donors, who kept their pledges despite the cancellation. 

Instead of dancing, the Marathon became a 30-hour virtual event which reached nearly 13,000 viewers, while NUDM’s cancellation message reached upwards of 15,000.

“When the 30 hours were canceled, we knew we wanted to utilize social media to spread the love and positivity of NUDM,” said Jessie Paridis, NUDM 2020 Marketing and Media Co-Chair, in a ststement. “We received an outpouring of support from alumni, many of whom offered their help and advice.”

Social media content from the virtual weekend included quotes from beneficiary speeches that would have been delivered during the event, special motivational videos from celebrities that would have been played throughout the marathon, and segments of a 30-hour dance that would have been taught throughout NUDM. The virtual weekend also included videos of condolences and encouragement from past NUDM executive board members, spanning from 1997 to 2019.

“It was a surreal experience transforming a social media schedule that took half a year to make in 48 hours,” Schmaier said. “But the experience was a true testament to the NUDM community. Our committee members, current executive board members and previous executive board members all jumped at the opportunity to help out.”

This was the 10th consecutive year the Dance Marathon broke the $1 million mark in funds raised. Thanks to the help of more than 10,000 unique donors, NUDM was able to present checks of $903,786.95 to Children’s Home & Aid and $100,420.77 to ECF.