On Jan. 18, I spent two hours on a highway in Glenview. During that span I was almost run over three times, awkwardly danced for approximately 25 minutes and was offered an illegal substance once.
All in the name of Dance Marathon.
When I heard about NUDM, I immediately knew I wanted to get involved. It seemed like the perfect way to do good and have fun at the same time. As I learned more about the cause, I grew excited about raising money and participating in the event. I am so glad I can work with a great foundation, Starlight Children’s Foundation, in any capacity.
But even though I love the cause, I never thought I would go canning to fundraise. Whenever it was brought up, I always brushed it off as too difficult and awkward. I am not one to go up to strangers and ask them for money, nor am I one to stand out on a cold on a highway for two hours.
I easily met the $400 minimum without ever getting up from behind my computer. All I had to do was draft an email asking for donations and send it to my grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Not everyone has the means to raise the money like I did. Even I was surprised when I received donation emails back from my family members right away. I am fortunate to have a supportive and generous family who helped me out, allowing me to raise the money quickly. Within a week, the money was raised and I was ready to dance.
As my friends signed up for canning shifts and urged me to join them, I realized that my fundraising process had been nearly effortless. I had done almost nothing to reach $400. So I decided, why not go out and do some work? Maybe there was more that I could do to help then just typing an email on my computer.
I got in a car on an oddly warm Sunday and drove to Glenview. Grabbing a neon bib and a can, I took to the streets. Standing on a dangerously thin medium, I screamed “Northwestern University Dance Marathon” over and over for two hours until I hated the sound of my voice.
It was not an easy task. I am not the most graceful person, and my balance was put to the test as I struggled to stay on the platform. There were a few instances when I tripped over my feet and fell onto the road, only to jump back up before a car whizzed by me. In my enthusiasm, I lost any sense of caution.
After falling for probably the third time, I looked up to find a man hanging out his car window. When you’re canning, this is a good sign. I walked up to him, smiling, expecting to receive some change or a dollar bill. Instead, the man asked if he could donate marijuana to the cause, holding out a joint, attempting to put it in my can. I stared in amazement before promptly saying no and running away. (Don’t worry mom!)
After two hours of canning, I walked away with a little over $100. In two hours I raised a quarter of what I’d garnered from just a few quick emails. But I was much happier at the end of that Sunday.
I was happy because, despite the fact that I was tired, raspy and still shaking from my brushes with death, I was proud of myself. Instead of typing out emails and asking my family members to do the work for me, I went into the world and did it myself. I informed people about the cause and made a difference on my own. It may have just been $100, a tiny fraction of the sum DM manages to raise every year, but it's still something.
When I was canning and someone asked me where the money was going, I was ecstatic to explain that DM would help build Starlight Sites, which are relaxing, fun alternatives to morbid hospital rooms. Canning gave me the opportunity to get on the streets and inform the public about DM. While some had heard of it, many hadn’t, and I was able to inform them of the great cause.
I am so proud to help a cause like Starlight and be a part of such an incredible event like NUDM. I don’t know exactly where the $100 I raised will go, but I know it will make a child’s life easier, and that makes it all worth it.
When the unveiling time comes and I see that final number, I’ll remember my own contribution, the money I raised myself. I helped in the building of Starlight Sites, a place I know will make children smile.