As expected, this past weekend at Penn State was one I’ll never forget. My best friend Julie and I packed up our car on Friday morning and took the 3 hour drive up to State College to witness this year’s THON. THON is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, raising money for the Four Diamonds Fund which supports families affected by childhood cancer.
Every year I was a student at Penn State, I was involved with THON. My first two years, I participated in many fundraising events with my sorority, including “canning” on the street, collecting every penny we could “FTK” (for the kids). My last two years as a student, I was involved in THON at work. We made phone calls day and and day out during the weekend of THON… so much so that I lost my voice both years I did it! I also had the opportunity those years to keep my friends who were dancing company on the floor, experiencing the event in a whole new light.
This year, Julie, my sister Melissa and I had the most unbelievable experience at THON. Besides having so much fun together during the weekend, we were able to see both the beginning AND the end of THON. The end of the event, is notorious for being the most intense, sad, happy, and fun four hours of a Penn State student’s college experience. Having never been able to make it to the event for the end, we were determined to get there this year.
Something you have to know about THON, is that the dancers are not allowed to sit at all during the 46 hours. To be fair and show respect to the dancers, no one in the stands is allowed to sit either. We arrived to the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday morning at 7am… much earlier than the last 4 hours of THON in order to snag a few of the coveted “seats” left in the stands for the main event. I don’t know how the dancers do it because after standing for 9.5 hours we were absolutely exhausted. It was worth every minute.
We got to see the line dance 9 times… which I still couldn’t reenact it for you. It was so complicated this year! We got to hear Jay Paterno speak to the crowd for the first THON event since his father, our coach’s death just last month. We then got to hear “family hour”, stories of families who have been helped and their children cured of cancer thanks to the Four Diamonds Fund and THON. Their stories were truly inspiring and reminded everyone just what they were there for. After lots of hugging and crying… a local cover band took the stage for the final hour and a half. They played fun dance music and the ENTIRE crowd and all of the dancers picked up their energy as if it was Friday and they had just arrived.
After the band and a few THON kids sang and danced to LMFAO, it was time to announce the totals. In their typical dramatic fashion, they raised up cards to reveal the record-breaking total of $10,686,924.83 raised. It was an unbelievable $1.1 million dollars more than last year’s record and the crowd just went wild. It is really something to be proud of, especially in a time where the entire country turned their backs on the students at Penn State. They were able to rise above and show the world what
they’re WE’RE all about.
I couldn’t be more proud to be a Penn Stater as I was this weekend.