You might have seen Penn State students collecting donations at your local grocery store or an intersection near your house. They hold cans saying “Help Kids Fight Cancer” and “Penn State THON.” Did you ever wonder where exactly those donations go? Here’s the inside scoop on the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON).
Each year, 15,000 Penn State students raise money for pediatric cancer research. The money raised goes directly to the Four Diamonds Fund at Hershey Medical Center. It is a year-long effort made up of countless fundraisers run by students. The fundraising culminates in a 46-hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon on a weekend in February. THON Weekend, 700 students are given the opportunity to “dance” or stand throughout the whole weekend without any breaks. They are paired up with a morale committee member who helps keep them motivated to stay awake and on their feet until Sunday night. Families and students are all welcome to the event. Throughout the weekend there are bands, dance groups, and talent shows to keep everyone entertained. Spectators come and go throughout the weekend to support the dancers from the stands of the BJC.
The Four Diamonds Fund was founded my Charles Millard, whose son died died of pediatric cancer. The fund provides the financial support for research and helps to pay for treatments not covered by insurance. Families who have a child at Hershey Medical Center are automatically added to the fund. Each family get paired up with a student organization who they can fundraise with or just hang out during THON weekend with.
There is a role for each THON volunteer throughout the year. There are 14 committees led by directors and captains. Committees range from Merchandise to Rules and Regulations. During THON Weekend, each committee sports a different color on-shift shirt to identify what their job is. Besides committees, there are hundreds of student organizations that volunteer for THON. These organizations go canning, send out THONvelopes (mail solicitation), and host their own fundraisers around town and on campus.
You might have seen “FTK” on a t-shirt or some type of promotional material for THON. FTK stands for “For The Kids.” It is a reminder for all volunteers and people from the community that these efforts directly benefit the kids in the Four Diamonds Fund. It is used by volunteers to motivate each other to do everything they can to make THON as successful as possible.
THON is one of the most popular organizations on campus and is a great way to get involved and meet new people. Each volunteer is just as passionate about the cause as the next. Penn State students work tirelessly throughout the year to eradicate pediatric cancer. “One day we will dance in celebration, until then, we dance for a cure.”
Below you will see the promotional video for THON 2013. There is also a video from the total reveal from THON 2013. To learn more and get involved, be sure to check out www.thon.org
Look out for committee member applications early in the fall semester. Organizations also welcome new members at the beginning of each school year.