Sara Schastok, president and CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation, accepts a check for $92,943.29 after Dance Marathon last month. (Photo credit: Jeffrey Wang)

Teamwork and a steady stream of donations and encouragement from across the country helped Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the world break the $1 million mark this year for the fifth consecutive year.


NUDM 2015 raised a total of $1,130,979 in cash and in-kind donations for two worthy causes during the weekend of March 6-8.

Of the cash raised, a check for $836,489.57 was presented to Jacquie Hart, Global CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation, NUDM’s primary beneficiary. The leading global charity partners with experts to improve the life and health of kids and families around the world through an array of family-centered programs. Cortney Szlemp, NUDM’s Starlight liaison, joined Hart on stage to accept the check.

Another check for $92,943.29 was presented to the Evanston Community Foundation (ECF), an Evanston-based organization that provides funding for local grants for the common good. As NUDM’s secondary beneficiary since 1998, ECF received 10 percent of NUDM 2015’s net proceeds. The check was presented to ECF’s outgoing president and CEO, Sara Schastok.

Starlight plans to use the money to fund Starlight Sites in up to 10 Chicago-area hospitals, which will provide welcoming and kid-friendly hospital environments for chronically ill children. It was the first time since 2010 that NUDM dollars raised by Northwestern students were not used for research.

ECF will put the funds to use for a full range of local grants and programs. 

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