Uh, what’s THON again?
Penn State Dance Marathon, known around here as THON, is a year-long fundraising effort culminating in a 46 hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon held every February in the Bryce Jordan Center. With over 15,000 volunteers, it’s the largest student-run philanthropy in the world!
Wait, does everyone dance?
While everyone who attends THON stays standing and dancing throughout the weekend, there are only ~700 “dancers”, who are on the floor for the full 46 hours. They represent different fundraising organizations (and were selected by those organizations) or are independent dancers (individuals who raised money themselves and entered a lottery for the opportunity). Because of the limitations on how many dancers there are, being selected as a dancer is taken very seriously and is considered an honor.
Who does it benefit?
THON benefits children with pediatric cancer, specifically the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Four Diamonds helps offset the costs associated with cancer treatment that insurance doesn’t cover. Money from THON is also used to fund research in search of a cure for pediatric cancer. Since 1977, THON has raised over $136 Million for Four Diamonds.
I keep seeing “FTK” around?
FTK = For The Kids! That’s what it’s all about, after all!
Is it just a University Park thing?
While THON is held in the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, fundraising happens at all campuses! Students from branch campuses are 100% eligible to dance in THON.
How can I volunteer as a freshman??
To become an “official” THON volunteer (meaning that you assist in the planning and execution of THON weekend and the events leading up to it), you join a committee! There are 11 committees, including rules and regulations, hospitality and dancer relations. Applications are accepted in September, and the process involves an interview.
What if I just want to help but I don’t want to join a committee?
There are dozens of organizations that fundraise for THON! Some organizations only raise money for THON and some have a different primary focus (like a professional society or service organization) but also fundraise for THON. Greek life is also heavily involved!
Can I still help out and go to THON if I’m not on a committee or special interest org?
Absolutely! Throughout the year, there are several opportunities to contribute to THON’s cause without being part of a formal organization. It’s hard to walk through the HUB and not find a group selling something with the proceeds going to THON–in the past I’ve bought succulents, tutus, stickers, bows and bracelets! Sometimes it’s as easy as eating at your favorite restaurant on a specific day when a portion of your total are donated to the cause. Events like the THON football game, THON 5K and THON blood drives also help!
Is it okay if I don’t want to be involved?
Yes! It can seem like THON dominates campus, and there’s no denying that a majority of people have contributed/are involved in some way. THON is a great cause, but there are a lot of great causes out there! It’s important to find a cause that’s important to you and give back in some way during your college career, but your niche doesn’t have to be THON.
— Bella Fordyce (@Bella4dice) February 18, 2017
(my view from THON 2017)