Happy Valley’s THON Recap
If you don’t already know, THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising millions of dollars every year in battle against childhood cancer, with a 46-hour dance marathon taking place the spring semester every year.
This year, THON was held from February 15–17 and raised $10, 621, 683.76!
Some may wonder where the money goes, and we are here to answer! THON raises money from student organizations across campus, as well as from families and alumni all over the world.
Since its first dance marathon, THON has raised more than 157 million and seen more than 16,500 student volunteers. The money raised is used to pay for Child Life coverage, treatment for Leukemia and experiments for Penn State’s Children’s Hospital in search of a cure.
THON works year-round to fundraise for families with children in need of treatment, but the weekend itself is special because of the events, volunteers, dancers and organizations that come out to support it all.
A major event of the weekend was Friday’s guest appearance by none other than Andy Grammer. Singing his classics like “Fine by Me” and “Honey I’m Good,” Grammer was 2019’s surprise performer at 8 p.m. He also sang one of his newest singles, “Don’t Give Up on Me.”
Another spotlight event was THON’s annual Kids Fashion Show.
The Four Diamonds kids took to the catwalk Saturday morning, sporting the trendy, must-have looks of Spring and Summer 2019. First on the catwalk were Ashlyn and Evan Brysiak, wearing Sunday’s famous Eagles jerseys with a “Fly Eagles Fly” banner accompanying them on stage.
The weekend would not be complete without the lion dance, Penn State dancers opening mail from loved ones Sunday morning—letters containing encouragement and support to keep their feet dancing on the floor—and of course, the Final Four.
Three families spoke during the Final Four this year, the Michael Palm family, the Bekah Tuckey family and the Emilia Dameshek family.
Each had their own special story. The Palm family dealt with watching their son suffer under painful chemotherapy. Palm’s father called every THON attendee a hero for fighting a battle that isn’t necessarily their own.
The Bekah Tuckey family watched their kindergarten daughter get diagnosed with leukemia and go under treatment and chemotherapy for 799 days.
The Emilia Dameshek family watched their daughter suffer from cancer three times in three years. On May 2016, Emilia died at 12 years old.
It is these moving statements, THON shows there are battles out there that sleep deprivation can never match, but are worth every second of lost sleep and tired feet if it means uplifting sick children and their families and finding a cure to one of the world’s worst illnesses.
Mary Enger, a sophomore at Penn State and a member of Apollo—a special interest THON group—believes all these moments of THON tie together the whole theme of empathy, love and unity against something the whole world deals with daily.
“I love THON because it's an amazing student run organization that really makes a difference, whether it's just putting a smile on a child's face or easing the financial burden of the families,” Enger said. “It brings so many people together that are so passionate for a common cause.”