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2014 THON Is Coming to Penn State at the BJC

by Casey Knapp
Every year, hundreds of student organizations travel across Pennsylvania into surrounding states in order to raise money for THON.  These students spend four separate weekends standing outside on sidewalks, in front of stores and on intersections canning for donations.
Canning is just one of many ways students show their enthusiasm for THON; they also participate in various committees that help to run THON weekend and the many events that lead up to the weekend aside from fundraising.

The stands at the BJC are full in anticipation for the THON 2011 Pep Rally.  Credit Annemarie MountzSince its creation in 1977, The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon has raised more than $101 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, including a record $12,374,034.46 in 2013.  The money raised goes to the families of children fighting all kinds of pediatric cancer and helps to pay for treatment and other related costs like travel.  In recent years, more money has been able to go to research as a result of the large amount of funds raised.

For the students at Penn State, it’s much more than simply raising money to fight pediatric cancer; THON is about a sense of community.  “My favorite thing about THON is the indescribable feeling of pride and accomplishment as we stand in the Bryce Jordan Center listening to countless stories of the ways in which THON has helped hundreds of families struggling with pediatric cancer,” says senior Brittany Scanlan.  “It’s about a community emphasizing school spirit and uniting for a common cause bigger than us.”

As a result of this, it’s no surprise that students put countless hours into fundraising for THON every year.  Among the methods students use are sending THONvelopes to family and friends, soliciting businesses for donations/sponsorship, door to door pledge booking, holding events like the annual THON 5K and canning, which is the most popular.

Much more goes into canning than merely driving somewhere and finding a few intersections to stand at.  THON chairs for each organization are required to register every trip and where they specifically plan to stand with the town they are in and with THON.  This is not only for safety, but also to guarantee that canners are in ordinance with local and state laws.

Other guidelines include no canning after dark, no canning around any bar, wearing bright, reflective clothing and receiving a permit to can from the town or city the canner is visiting.  One might think that all of these guidelines would deter students, but that certainly isn’t the case.  

Students go out in droves for these canning trips and often times raise upwards of $1000 per trip.

Normally it wouldn’t be easy to raise that much money in one weekend, but the dedication shown by the participating students makes it possible.  Some groups begin as early as 7 a.m. and continue on until 5 p.m.

All of this effort culminates in a 46 hour, no sitting or sleeping dance marathon that takes place during the third weekend of February.  The participants in THON are supported by their organizations, numerous committees and the THON families of the children in the Four Diamonds Fund.

THON weekend provides an outlet for the children affected by pediatric cancer to forget about their illnesses for a short period of time and live like a normal child.  The event culminates with family hour, when families in the Four Diamonds Fund tell their stories and the reveal of the total number raised by all of the organizations and it is something that is truly special.

THON 2014 Details:

Dates: February 21-23, 2014
Location: Bryce Jordan Center
Website: Thon.org


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