DemonTHON raises $274,000 for Lurie Children’s Hospital

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Friday marked junior Mikayla Rickord’s second time participating in the 24-hour DePaul dance marathon DemonTHON, but it is not the only time she works with sick children. Each week, she spends three to four hours at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, the same hospital benefitted by the hundreds of students participating in the annual fundraiser.

DemonTHON raised $274, 887  this year — up from last year’s total — and surpassed the $1 million mark over five years of fundraising. The money raised goes towards Children’s Miracle Network and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital for families who cannot afford treatment, and to improve the day-to-day life of sick children.

Rickord, who regularly prepares crafts and other activities and dreams of working as an oral surgeon, understands that impact firsthand.

“It helps the kids remember how to be kids,” she said. “They are given very adult problems, and very hard things to deal with that little kids shouldn’t have to deal with. It allows them to have fun and gives them a safe space to do that.”

Rickord watched as the first family of the day, the Bransfields who live in Lincoln Park and have ties to DePaul, told students about their son Sean who was born with a heart defect and treated at Lurie’s. Similar stories were told each hour by families who found healing at Lurie’s.

This was not the only uplifting activity; DemonTHON is a tightly-run ship. There’s the dance:  a 10-minute choreographed feat backed by everything from “Hotline Bling” to the “Bill Nye the Science Guy” theme. It’s taught by coaches for the first two hours and recited each hour on the hour.

Then there’s the themed hours, like a 2000’s late-night hour which includes hair crimping and other middle school throwbacks.

And if that’s not enough, morale captains are on hand to ensure high spirits and energy even in the wee hours.

“Going for 24 hours, you can have some dark hours,” junior and morale captain Bridget Sitko said. A transfer student, Sitko said she was inspired to join DemonThon after her young nephew became sick and seeing what her sister went through.

“We just have to keep everyone remembering who we’re dancing for,” she said.

And what keeps them dancing?

“These miracle stories remind us of why we’re doing it,” she said, as the crowd cheered for the now-healthy Bransfield family. “It’s really inspiring to be doing it for a good reason.”

Photos by Olivia Jepson and Josh Leff / The DePaulia.