Today starts the best three days for a Penn State student’s year: it’s officially THON weekend. For 46 hours, students, alumni, and supporters will prove that cancer cannot and will not win. Over 15,000 students will volunteer to stand in the Bryce Jordan Center for a 46-hour dance marathon with no sitting and no sleeping for the fight against pediatric cancer. Throughout the weekend, there are performances of song and dance, talent shows by the sports teams, a pep rally, speeches from the families who have suffered, tributes to students who have passed from this horrible disease, and other heart wrenching and tear jerking presentations.
At the end of the 46 hours, the dancers are finally allowed to sit, where the reveal of the THON total is displayed, number by number.
Last year, Penn State raised $13,026,653.23, and in 2014 we raised $13,343,517.33 all for the kids. I remember the look on my dads face when I told him. “Thirteen million?! Don’t you mean Thirteen thousand?” However, the effort that Penn Staters, alumni, and other supporters put in to see the smiles on their THON child’s face will forever be priceless.
This year, two out of the three canning weekends were cancelled, so donations mainly came from alternate fundraising and what we call THONvelopes (requests to donate through the mail or on a website). This will severely impact the THON total this year.
[Editor’s note: Sadly a member of a PSU sorority Vitalyia “Tally” Seport died this year in a car crash on her way back from a canning event. There will likely be a memorial of sorts for her this weekend.]
However, people often lose sight of what THON is all about in the crazy competition that is trying to raise more money than other orgs. What people forget to realize is that THON is not about any certain club or organization raising the most amount of money. It is not about the dollar signs. THON is not about promoting sisterhood or brotherhood. THON is about giggling with kids of all ages all year long, seeing the smiles on the faces of children in which you put there, making bright memories in a situation where bright spots are few and far between, understanding that giving up your social time or friends here and there is not actually missing out on the “best four years of your life” and that in your young lives, you have gained devotion to a united fight that one day you will know you helped find a cure for. That is what THON is about.
I heard this beautiful quote when I experienced my first THON as a freshman, “Those things that we do for ourselves dies with us. Those that we do for others and humanity live on and become immortal.” So this weekend let’s keep sight of what THON is really about and dance our hearts away, for the kids, for the cure, and for the glory!