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Dance Marathon fundraiser this weekend

More than 1,000 Northwestern University students will attempt to dance for 30 straight hours this weekend as part of one of the world’s largest student-run philanthropies.

Their efforts not only will produce blistered feet but also raise money for StandUp for Kids, a national organization of volunteers that works with homeless and “at-risk” youth, and the Evanston Community Foundation.

For a $5 entrance fee, members of the public are welcome to observe the couples taking part in Northwestern’s Dance Marathon 2010. The dancing begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 5, and continues until 1 a.m. Sunday, March 7, at Norris University Center, 1999 Campus Drive.

They also can participate in Dance Marathon weekend fundraising events at Norris, including a silent auction, a 5-K run along Lake Michigan’s shore, carnival games, a spa and an a cappella show. In past years, Dance Marathon weekend has attracted as many as 3,000 visitors.

The money raised by Dance Marathon will expand StandUp for Kids’ programs in Chicago and the Midwest. More than 1.5 million children nationally and 26,000 children in the Chicago area are estimated to be homeless.

For the 13th consecutive year, the Evanston Community Foundation is Dance Marathon’s secondary beneficiary, which receives 10 percent of the marathon’s net donations. The foundation will use its share to support Evanston-based organizations and its own charitable programs.

Last year, Dance Marathon raised $917,834 in net total donations for Project Kindle, a national nonprofit working with children and families impacted by HIV-AIDS, and the Evanston Community Foundation. Project Kindle received $576,470, and ECF received $65,062 of the net total donations, which included product donations.

Student volunteers in Dance Marathon begin raising money in the fall. The culmination of their efforts is the 30-hour, March dance-a-thon. To date, Dance Marathon has raised more than $11 million for charities since its founding in 1975.

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