As a Penn State alum, I would be remiss if I didn’t help spread the word about this weekend’s THON, a 46 hour dance marathon that raises money to assist in covering the medical bills of children diagnosed with pediatric cancer. You can watch a live stream of the event here when it begins today at 6 p.m.
Last year, over $10.5 million was donated to the charity’s beneficiary, The Four Diamonds Fund. The fund allows families of children who are receiving medical treatment at Penn State Hershey‘s Children’s Hospital to essentially drop everything and move to
Hershey if they have to. The money from the fund picks up the leftover costs that insurance doesn’t cover, and for some children who endure years of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, the Four Diamonds Fund is a god-send.
Families are paired with an organization at Penn State, which could be a fraternity or sorority, or another student group at the school, who are their liaisons for all things THON related. The student groups will do things like collect gifts for their THON child’s birthday, offer to house-sit while the families are at the hospital for treatments, do laundry, grocery shop, etc. — whatever the family may need.
All throughout the year, the students raise money by asking for donations via mail, collecting it on weekends in an exercise known as “canning” – holding coffee cans out on street corners for passersby to donate – and raising awareness for people all across the country and world to donate to the cause.
It all culminates with THON – an event where students at Penn State volunteer to stand up, stay awake, and celebrate for 46 hours straight the children who are fighting their cancer. Students cram into the stands at the Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State’s concert and basketball hub, to cheer on their organization’s dancers. Families usually come out to support their student group’s dancers, and bring their children to run around and have fun with the students.
It begins on Friday (today!) and wraps up on Sunday with a memorial service for children who passed away the previous year, and the reveal of the total of the year’s fundraising efforts, which have climbed every year since THON’s inception and have grown exponentially in the past few years.
I was blessed with the opportunity to cover the event in 2010 as a member of the student press, and I spent a day with the family of a little girl who was just wrapping up her years-long battle with leukemia. The girl’s parents couldn’t express enough how appreciative they were of the assistance of the Four Diamonds Fund, and how much their daughter looked forward to THON every year. Their student group was ATLAS (pictured here), an independent organization whose existence is solely dedicated to THON.
While I was only involved with THON as someone who covered the event for news outlets, I still believe it’s a fabulous charity and so worth your time to check out. There will be a live stream of the event, and my former college newspaper, The Daily Collegian, provides top-notch, round-the-clock coverage of every aspect of THON weekend.
Check out some YouTube videos of the event:
THON 2013 Promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l4eA3Vmfuk
Road to THON 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAUSIF_QPWw
THON 20120 Recap: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtHboPJomZU
- Penn State Community Gears Up For THON (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Penn State students make final preparations for annual IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (pennlive.com)
- Hair Auction Raises More Than $1K for THON (gantdaily.com)
- Hope Express makes dash from Hershey for Thon fundraiser (pennlive.com)
- for the kids (bsweetdreaming.wordpress.com)
- PSU students travel to State College for dance marathon (wfmz.com)
- THON 2013 Invites the World to ‘Dance With Us’ in Feb. 16 Event (gantdaily.com)