Before coming to Northwestern, I was perplexed by the idea of a Dance Marathon. I understood the importance of helping a charitable organization and was absolutely impressed by the success of Northwestern’s Dance Marathon, but I couldn’t comprehend how people could dance for 30 hours straight. That’s not a typo. Participants in Northwestern’s Dance Marathon dance for 30 hours once a year as part of the philanthropy event. Figuring out how it is possible for people to dance for 30 hours was a must, so I knew that when I got to campus the following autumn, I would certainly be signing up to dance in Northwestern’s 2014 Dance Marathon.
Early Fall Quarter after a few weeks of convincing, two of my best friends from my residential college, Ayers College of Commerce and Industry, joined me and signed up for Dance Marathon. Team Joseph, a group dedicated to researching Duchenne muscular dystrophy, was the philanthropy for which we would be dancing and fundraising. After reading about Team Joseph on the Dance Marathon website, my friends and I were determined to fundraise $1,500 between the three of us. To do so, we would need to come up with a plan. I sold bake goods in our dorm, one of my friends started a Sunday brunch business, and the other decided to dedicate some of his earnings from his on-campus job. These initiatives were very successful, but alone were not enough for us to help meet our goal. We decided to begin canning in downtown Evanston. Standing in front of a grocery store, we asked passersby for money and were delighted at how acquainted the Evanston community was with Dance Marathon and how eager people were to donate to Team Joseph. Eventually, our efforts more than paid off; we exceeded our fundraising goal and were ready to boogie!
When the weekend was finally upon us, my friends and I were more than prepared. We packed hygiene needs, energy drinks, emergency medicine, and some outfits to play along with the Dance Marathon themes. After checking in, we were welcomed into the tent to begin dancing. Colorful lights illuminated the tent and provided an almost disco-esque vibe. Speakers blasted pop songs new and old with a bass so hard that beat took over your feet. Smiling faces and dancing feet kept the room alive. Enthusiastic emcees kept the party going all night, and though I was exhausted from having danced for 30 hours, the time flew by.
At the end of the night, Joseph’s mom gave the dancers a speech thanking Northwestern, the Dance Marathon Executive Board, and all of the dancers for their contribution. Her words moved many to tears. After 30 hours of straight dancing, you are only a zombie of yourself, but if everyone has gone through the same thing as you, at the very least you’re not alone. You are part of a community, and not just any community at that. You are part of a community that raised over a million dollars for a good cause. I would say that’s a pretty awesome experience.

–Sam Elmi

Photo: The Daily Northwestern.

One thought on “Sam: My Two Left Feet and Dance Marathon”

  1. Hey Sam,

    Wow! What an accomplishment – 30 hours is a long time to dance. I think it’s amazing that you all raise over $1M for a good cause. This story really deserves more attention. Sounds like you guys have a great community and were able to use apps like WiGo, Facebook and Twitter to really get the word out.

    Congrats again,

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