We imagined our Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) 22 person executive board on stage hugging and crying in utter disbelief because the final reveal of our fund-raising proved to us that all of the late nights, overwhelming meetings, and sacrifices we made over the past year were worth it. The 30 hour dance marathon was supposed to have been a culmination of our year long efforts and the best experience of our college career. But, two days before the event, we received news that NUDM 2020 would have to be cancelled due to Northwestern’s fear surrounding coronavirus (COVID-19).
Northwestern University Dance Marathon is one of the largest independent student-run philanthropies in the world, raising more than $20 million in its 46-year history, including more than $1 million in each of the past eight years. This year we’re supporting Children’s Home & Aid, a non-profit dedicated to recovering neglected and abused children’s health, hope, and faith in the people around them. Children’s Home and Aid strives to give the gift of home to its children, believing that every child deserves a loving family, free from abuse and neglect. NUDM 2020 dancers worked specifically with the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Child + Family Center, a foster shelter located in Evanston. NUDM has more than 1,000 participants, and involves even more students throughout the year via fundraising and service efforts. Donations can be made at fundraise.nudm.org
Morton Schapiro, President of Northwestern University, wrote in a statement addressed to the entire global Northwestern community, “Dance Marathon is an important tradition for Northwestern, and we are committed to ensuring it continues for years to come. We also are committed to making sure this year’s fundraising beneficiaries — Children’s Home and Aid and Evanston Community Foundation— reap the benefits of our community’s hard work. The restructuring of this year’s event should in no way diminish from the amazing work organizers have done, and the incredible impact their fundraising efforts have had on the Dance Marathon’s primary beneficiary this year.”
Our names are Rachel Cantor, Executive Co-Chair, and Alec Chang, Dancer Accessibility and Experience Co-Chair, and we are both Northwestern students and also local natives of Glencoe and Wilmette respectively. The 30 hours meant everything to us. The amazing memories, the friendships formed, and the community we found here have turned the event into something more; we are beyond grateful to call NUDM our home. And that’s what this year has been about; finding your home. Finding every child at the Rice Center a home.
Lucy Clements, Manager of Grants and the NUDM Beneficiary Liaison, said that “NUDM has done so much immeasurable good for our children, our families, and our community. The money matters, but what the Rice Child + Family Center children have gained through the relationships you have formed and simply through knowing that incredible adults care about them is also never going away.”
Mike Shaver, President and CEO of Children’s Home & Aid, wrote, “Your work matters and your commitment has transformed young lives for the better. But I want you to know you’ve done so much more. You’ve shown a very special group of kids that they have unlimited potential and that you believe in them. This is the gift that will endure – the relationships you’ve built and the hope you’ve inspired through your mentoring and caring. Dance or no dance, you’ve touched our hearts, and all of us at Children’s Home & Aid are grateful and moved by your partnership.”
In a statement on NUDM’s facebook page I, Rachel Cantor, wrote “over the past year, we have fostered change to improve NUDM, support Children’s Home & Aid and the Evanston Community Foundation, and while we [couldn’t] dance together in the tent, we can still spread the NUDM magic all around the world.”
This past year has been the most incredible year of our lives. We are so thankful for the lessons NUDM has taught us, so thankful for the friendships we have made, and so thankful that NUDM’s magic has made us work harder than we ever have in our entire lives. This year has given us more highs than we ever could have hoped for and a new low that still feels like a dream. We are thankful for it all.
Even though we will never get the closure of dancing in the tent one last time, please help us achieve our goal and donate at: fundraise.nudm.org.