Blue Demons dance their way to another fundraising record
March 15, 2013
By Edmund Lawler
Exhausted but jubilant, Blair Janis fell to the floor of the McGrath Arena Saturday evening when it was announced that DemonTHON had topped last year’s record-breaking total.
“I collapsed in tears,” said Janis, a junior majoring in public policy and communication studies and the event’s external director. “We were all crying. It was the moment we had worked so hard for over the past year. For many of us, it was a defining moment of our DePaul careers.”
The DemonTHON 24-hour dance marathon, DePaul University’s largest student-run philanthropy, raised $150, 313, smashing last year’s total of $103,700 when DePaul set the record for a first-time dance marathon to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
This year’s DemonTHON set a record for the most money ever raised for a second-year college dance marathon and is the 18th-highest fundraising total ever. The money will benefit patients and families of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.
Janis said 240 students, each of whom pledged to collect at least $250 in donations, danced throughout the marathon from Friday evening through Saturday evening—24 hours later. “Amazingly, 221 of the 240 dancers made it the full 24 hours. That’s a very high retention rate.”
The dancers were cheered on by 25 morale captains and were bolstered by the stories of about 20 families of patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital who took to the stage over the course of marathon to describe the challenges facing their child and to express their gratitude to the students of DePaul.
The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president, stopped by the dance marathon twice on Saturday to salute the dancers and the 32-member DemonTHON committee that orchestrated a yearlong series of events to generate awareness and donations. “You guys are awesome; and I think somewhere, St. Vincent is pretty proud too,” he said.
Edwin Darrell, associate director for Residential Education and DemonTHON’s faculty-staff advisor, said he was “amazed by the students’ commitment and passion to the cause. They’re realizing that this is not just about the money raised, but it’s really more about helping our community and the kids who need our help. The students are especially proud that they have started something that will become a campus tradition.”
Darrell said he was heartened to receive an email from Zac Johnson, director of Youth Marketing and Dance Marathon for the 170-member Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, in which he praised DePaul and two other universities that have successfully launched new dance marathons.
Johnson wrote: “In terms of campus, community, and culture— your three schools could not be more distinct. But there is a sameness in your passion for the cause that is so striking and unparalleled in the history of our newest programs. Working with the University of Northern Iowa, Auburn University and DePaul University has been among the most rewarding experiences of my career. You've heard me say it before, but it will always bear repeating: You have changed the face of Dance Marathon as we know it.”
One of the most gratifying aspects of this year’s event, Janis said, was how well the students established relationships with the families of sick children. “I was so happy because throughout the night we saw our students connect with the families. That made this incredible event even more meaningful for everyone.”