Dubuque charity chosen as Northwestern University Dance Marathon beneficiary

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) – Northwestern University Dance Marathon (NUDM) dates back to 1975. It is a tradition where over 1,000 students participate in a year-long effort to fundraise. It culminates in a 30-hour dance marathon in March.

“Our mission is really to connect Northwestern students with the greater Chicago community and provide them an outlet for philanthropy,” Ayesha Goswami, executive co-chair, said.

This year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to do the event virtually and as fellow co-chair Cami Steppe said, they had to get creative to make it happen.

“All of our dancers have a fundraising page and we encourage them to partake in different fundraising challenges, reach out to family and friends, do Instagram, Venmo bingo, all these fun things that they can do you virtually to be able to fund raise,” she explained.

At the end of every year, they choose a charitable organization to donate the money they fundraise to. This year they raised close to $675,000.

The lucky charity chosen is Compass to Care, an organization that pays travel expenses for Dubuque families to help children get to cancer treatments.

The organization’s founder, Michelle Ernsdorff-May, said it is an honor for her charity to have been selected.

“We had been applying for, I think, six years with the hopes that someday the chairs and the executive team would fall in love with our mission as much as we have and choose us as a beneficiary,” she mentioned. “When you get an honor like this it is really like a dream come true because it gives you the funding to make your organization go so much further, so much faster then we have been able to do ourselves.”

Ernsdorff-May said the pandemic has forced more families to seek out help.

”We have seen families being referred to us really from everywhere,” she explained. “Places that we have never supported children from before, and hospitals that we had not built relationships with have started reaching out to us for support and so having the funding from NUDM will allow us to start saying yes two more of those children.”

She said her goal is to grow beyond a regional organization to becoming the national provider of travel for children with cancer.

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