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Dance Marathon Director Finds Joy, Connectedness

“If you are really involved with something, you feel like you and other students are unified under one cause. That’s such an important part of the college experience,” says India Mayer, executive director of DemonTHON, DePaul’s 24-hour dance marathon that raises money for the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

India is a four-year veteran of DemonTHON. She was a dancer representing her residence hall as a freshman and a dancer rep for her sorority as a sophomore. By the time she was a junior, she was director of dancer relations: “I was taking care of the people who were doing what I used to do.” Now she’s executive director for the entire marathon, working all year to forge DePaul students and families from the children’s hospital into a single, joy-filled community.

“When you meet these kids, you’re instantly brought into their world. You meet the families, and you realize how much the parents and siblings have on their shoulders,” she says. Yet, “they are all so cheerful. They’re so supportive of what we’re doing. That’s a pretty incredible community to be a part of.”

That sense of community is pivotal to India. She relishes how DemonTHON pulls together all kinds of students—different ages, different majors, living on-campus and off—into one team working for a common cause.

“DemonTHON gave me this insight into the sense of student community and this Blue Demon experience that I really craved,” she says.

India’s goals for this year’s marathon on April 24 and 25, 2015, are simple: Raise one more dollar than last year’s $214,000 and recruit one more student than the 400-plus who participated last year.

“For me, to be able to see more and more dancers involved and more people on DePaul’s campus get unified is going to be the most satisfying thing. So as long as the building is full, I think I’ll be happy.”