More than 1,000 students will don their dancing shoes the weekend of March 6 to 8 during Northwestern University’s Dance Marathon to raise funds for two organizations — Project Kindle and the Evanston Community Foundation.

It is the largest number of participants in the organization’s 35-year history and a far cry from the 21 couples who danced to raise funds during the inaugural Dance Marathon in 1975.

Last year, more than 750 dancers participated, netting a record-breaking $933,855 in total donations (including product donations) for two local beneficiaries. The Dance Marathon Executive Board presented a check for $593,739.97 to the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Another check for $65,971.11 went to the Evanston Community Foundation.

This year, couples will begin dancing at 7 p.m. Friday, March 6, and continue until 1 a.m. Sunday, March 8 at Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive, on the Evanston campus.

During the 30-hour marathon they will be given 10-minute rest breaks in between the three hour blocks. Some will use this break to change costumes to reflect the block themes, which range from Time Warp to Colors.

Dance Marathon is one of the world’s largest student-run philanthropies. This year’s record turnout of dancers is the result of strong outreach to student groups on campus.

Representatives from more than 35 student organizations will have teams dancing this year. The March weekend event is a culmination of a year of fundraising and volunteering for this year’s two beneficiaries by about 1,500 Northwestern students.

The public is invited to observe the dancers as well as participate in the numerous fund-raising events, including a silent auction, a 5-K run, carnival games, a spa and an a cappella show.

There is a $5 donation to enter. In previous years, Dance Marathon weekend has attracted up to 3,000 visitors.

Project Kindle, this year’s primary beneficiary, is a national nonprofit organization that supports children and families impacted by HIV/AIDS.

Project Kindle works with more than 15,000 individuals every year through camp sessions, a speakers’ bureau, a scholarship program and the “i Know!” initiative, an awareness and education program.

The Evanston Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to benefiting the Evanston community, has been Dance Marathon’s secondary beneficiary and has received $377,525 since 1998.

ECF will receive 10 percent of this year’s net proceeds, which will be targeted for grants ECF awards to Evanston-based organizations and used to help the foundation’s own programs.

This year’s student executive co-chairs are senior Liz Banks, a communication studies major at the School of Communication, and Phil Reich, a Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences senior who is majoring in economics and international studies.

“We can’t wait to see our campus united and invigorated at Dance Marathon,” said Reich. “This event really shows the dedication of our student body and allows us all to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

For more information about Dance Marathon is available online.

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