Northwestern University students who participated in the 35th annual Dance Marathon last weekend raised $917,834.

The total, including product donations, benefited two local charities, Project Kindle and the Evanston Community Foundation.

The Dance Marathon Executive Board presented Project Kindle founder Eva Payne with a check for $576,470. Sara Schastok, ECF executive director, accepted a check for $64,052 for the community foundation, Dance Marathon’s secondary beneficiary since 1998.

A record-breaking 900 students danced for 30 hours as part of this year’s dance-a-thon. A total of 1,500 Northwestern students were involved in fundraising this year.

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

The organization works with more than 15,000 individuals each year through camp sessions, a speaker’s bureau, a scholarship program and the “I Know” initiative, an awareness and education program.

The funds from Dance Marathon 2009 will take Project Kindle’s programming to the next level, enabling it to establish a permanent camp for year-round support for their families.

The Evanston Community Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to benefitting the Evanston community.

ECF received 10 percent of this year’s net proceeds. The money will be targeted to grants for Evanston-based organizations and also used to support the foundation’s own programs.

ECF supports Dance Marathon as a local resource for community connections and assists Dance Marathon on philanthropic topics.

Dance Marathon brings together students from different campus groups, including fraternities and sororities, dorms and religious groups.

This year’s top fundraising group, Zeta Beta Tau/Delta Gamma, raised $101,713. Other awards were given to the top fundraising independent dancers and committee members.

“I can’t even put into words what an amazing feeling it was to see the look on our beneficiaries’ faces when we revealed the total,” said Phil Reich, executive student co-chair of this year’s Dance Marathon. “This money will impact them in so many ways. We couldn’t be prouder to provide support.”

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