By Andy Hornak | The Duquesne Duke
Penn State students and alumni gathered in Bryce Jordan Center this past weekend for a 46-hour dance marathon that raised over $13 million for cancer research.
THON, a three-day continuous dance marathon, brought together thousands of people to provide emotional and financial support for children suffering from various forms of pediatric cancer. Ninety-six percent all of the proceeds go directly to the Four Diamonds Fund, which assists children being treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital in Hershey, PA.
Last year THON raised $12.37 million, breaking 2012’s record and reaching the $100 million mark in its history, according to the charity’s official website. The 2014 campaign raised $13,343,517.33 for innovative research.
Although THON is a year-long event, the fundraising efforts peak during the 46-hour marathon that features both children who have beaten and are currently battling cancer. The children join in the celebration that engages over 15,000 students from across Pennsylvania, many of them volunteers.
The campus was a ghost town for 72 hours because of Penn State’s commitment to THON.
Ryan Brennan, a senior public relations major and Communications Captain at this year’s THON, found the event to be a rewarding experience.
“Some of these kids are still trying to stay healthy,” Brennan said. “To do this for them and see them have fun is worth all the work.”
The area was full but the seats were empty. Thousands of people stayed on their feet to keep the marathon going from Friday to Sunday. Students, alumni and volunteers packed the arena floor to dance and have squirt gun battles with kids.
Many volunteers also dressed up either as beloved childhood characters such as Scooby Doo or simply in bright colors.
Alex Snopko, a senior volunteer, said he was exhausted from THON preparations but planned on dancing all weekend for the children.
“I’m probably going to crash for an hour and head back [to THON],” Snopko said.
However, even students that did not volunteer made the commitment to spend the entire weekend dancing for the kids.
“I’m going to be at THON until the end,” sophomore broadcast journalism major Ben Bobick said. “Nothing else is going on around campus during it.”
Immediately after the marathon concluded, the committee in charge of THON began preparing for next year in hopes to break the record again and give students, alumni and children another weekend to remember.