Check Out PSU’s THON This Weekend

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.

Photo taken during the pep rally held during t...

Photo taken during the pep rally held during the 2007 Penn State Dance Marathon in the Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

A modern charity dance marathon at Pennsylvani...

A modern charity dance marathon at Pennsylvania State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

100 Days 'til THON 011 Old Main Lawn

100 Days ’til THON 011 Old Main Lawn (Photo credit: pennstatenews)

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.

Atlas Benefiting THON

Atlas Benefiting THON (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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Use Your Experiences

This sounds pretty “white girl problems” -esque, but I turned in my apartment keys over the weekend and officially moved back home to eastern PA now that I’ve graduated from college. I thought, being a twenty-something girl who’s had her fair share of boyfriends, that I knew what heartbreak felt like. But I honestly feel like I broke up with my apartment and my heart is aching.

It’s been on my mind a lot lately, and I always get this weird mix of emotions that I absolutely cannot put words to. Never did I think I’d ever be at a loss for words to describe anything, let alone an emotion, but I am truly incapable of coming up with a word to accurately convey what I feel about the entire experience: graduating, leaving State College, and moving back home. “Nostalgia” comes close, “heartbreak” comes closer, and “depressed” is a term I usually reserve for people who are diagnosed with the noun form.

But now to tie this back into writing…

Despite how downright depressed I really do feel at times, this experience is great for getting my mind back into the creative writing mode. Each night I’ve tried to sit down to explore these emotions and try to figure out what words will describe and evoke the same feelings in readers, which is tough, considering I don’t have any established vocabulary that gets the job done the way I want it done. It’s forcing me to think long and hard and actually consider my word choices.

The point here is that when we have these tough experiences, even ones that don’t seem to be so tough in the long run, it’s important for us as writers to write about them. What better way to describe an emotion than to describe what it feels like when you’re actually feeling it at that very moment! It’s the very definition of writing what you know! And it doesn’t have to be just for sadness, but happiness, joy, excitement, relief… the list goes on. It’ll only make your writing better to readers.

With that, I’m off to try to find words for my feelings! Happy writing!