Every year, Northwestern University students dance until they nearly drop to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for two good causes. This academic year, those causes are the Children’s Heart Foundation (CHF) and the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF).

One of the largest student-run philanthropies in the world, Dance Marathon is scheduled for the weekend of March 4 to 6. Since Dance Marathon began in 1975, Northwestern students have raised a combined total of more than $11 million for dozens of charities.

Video highlights from this year’s Dance Marathon.

Each year, the Dance Marathon committee selects a primary and a secondary beneficiary to receive proceeds (minus expenses and in-kind gifts), collected after months of fundraising that begin each fall and conclude in early March after 30 hours of dancing that takes place on the Evanston campus at Norris University Center.

The Children’s Heart Foundation, a national organization that raises money and awareness for children with congenital heart defects, will be Dance Marathon’s 2011 primary beneficiary. It is the second time CHF has received financial support from the annual student fundraising event. In 1999, Dance Marathon raised $450,833 for CHF and $17,400 for ECF.

The Evanston Community Foundation (ECF) — an organization that builds, connects and distributes resources and knowledge through local organizations for the public good — will be the secondary beneficiary for the 14th consecutive year.

“We want to make a concrete difference in people’s lives,” said Northwestern School of Communication senior Julie Sher, Dance Marathon 2011 co-chair. “One of the priorities in selecting a primary beneficiary from about 60 applicants is finding a cause the campus will connect to.”

The 2011 Dance Marathon committee selected the Children’s Heart Foundation because congenital heart defects are among the most common birth defects in the world and a leading cause of birth defect-related deaths. It is estimated that nearly one of every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect. Thousands will not live to celebrate their first birthday. More than half of all children born with a congenital heart defect will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime. As a result, the need for research remains vital.

“We are confident that Northwestern University Dance Marathon funds will be allocated toward very promising research in the field,” said DM 2011 co-chair Catrina Miksis, a senior in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

As the secondary beneficiary, the Evanston Community Foundation will use proceeds from Dance Marathon for foundation grants to local organizations and to support the foundation’s own programs.

Last school year, the 36th annual Dance Marathon raised $854,396 in total gifts and in-kind donations. Dance Marathon co-chairs presented checks for $461,546 to StandUp for Kids, a national organization of volunteers that works with homeless and “at risk” youth, and $51,282 to the Evanston Community Foundation.

For more about Dance Marathon, visit www.nudm.org

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