As classes let out at Penn State University on Friday, February 20, 2015, the campus was full of life and excitement. Contrary to popular belief, this positive and energetic vibe was not coming from college students ready to party the weekend away. On the contrary, a weekend all Penn State students had been waiting for was finally upon them, THON 2015!
For 46 hours, over 700 students participate in a no-sitting and no-sleeping dance marathon to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Penn State THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world and unites over 15,000 student volunteers each year. If you live anywhere along the east coast, you’ve probably seen these students fundraising in your neighborhood, standing and even cart-wheeling, jumping or singing on street corners with the hope that you will donate to a cause most dear to their hearts.
Indeed, since 1973, these students have donated their time, money and whole-hearted passion to an amazing cause that benefits children and families affected by childhood cancer. The months leading up to THON weekend are filled with countless hours of fundraising, organizing and intense preparation to make THON weekend the best it can be for the children and their families.
Starting Friday evening and continuing on until Sunday afternoon, dancers crowd the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center and student volunteers fill the stands for 46 hours to spend quality time with the children and families. Dancing, playing games and enjoying live performances all weekend help the kids take their minds off of cancer and focus on their beautiful lives as carefree children. THON has become the perfect opportunity for them to have fun, meet new friends and be in a positive and loving environment.
This year alone, Penn State raised $13,026,653.23 for the kids, adding to the $127 million already raised. This money goes directly to the Four Diamonds Fund, which provides superior care, comprehensive support and innovative research towards pediatric cancer at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
Years of dedication and love for this cause have created a strong community at Penn State that will continue to grow stronger for decades to come. And most importantly, the volunteers won’t stop until pediatric cancer is eliminated and children can grow up to chase their dreams and share their gifts with the world. To get a closer look at THON over the years, check out the documentary project: Why We Dance: The Story of THON.