THON 2013—Let the Countdown Begin
Canners have hit the streets along the East Coast and runners sped through campus “For the Kids.” It’s official—the countdown to THON 2013 is underway, and this year, there are even more ways alumni can get involved.
Since 1977, the Penn State/IFC Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately known as THON, has raised more than $89 million for The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, helping hundreds of children diagnosed with pediatric cancer. In 2012 alone, THON raised more than $10 million.
The new Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, dedicated on Nov. 13 and due to open in January, will house a new children’s cancer facility. The IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon Pediatric Cancer Pavilion was made possible with a $10 million commitment from THON. It will offer private space for kids undergoing inpatient or outpatient cancer treatment, and clinicians’ expanded capabilities to offer clinical trials and experimental treatment options. Read more about the Children’s Hospital’s recent dedication here.
This year’s 46-hour dance marathon, to be held Feb. 15–17 at the Bryce Jordan Center, is the culmination of a yearlong effort on behalf of students, alumni and Penn State friends across the country.
Racing Toward THON—Fall Events
THON kicked off on Oct. 13 with a “For the Kids” 5K race. More than 7,000 registered walkers and runners—both Penn State students and Pennsylvania community members—began at the Bryce Jordan Center and wound their way through campus. The day featured a Kids Fun Run, a timed competitive run, a THON family speaker, music and food. Many runners showed their THON support by wearing THON gear or dressing up in costumes. Other Commonwealth campuses held THON 5K runs as well in November, including Penn State Schuylkill and Penn State Lehigh Valley. All proceeds from the annual 5K races go to THON.
Penn State students trekked to cities and towns across the East Coast for three weekends this fall to raise money the old-fashioned way: face-to-face. Canning weekends are a THON tradition, and students have often received national media attention for their canning efforts.
This year, Penn State Public Broadcasting produced “Why We Dance: The Story of THON,” a 60-minute documentary that explores the Penn State’s student volunteers’ yearlong efforts. Alumni can purchase a DVD of the documentary from WPSU for $12.45 here.
On Nov. 7, students celebrated the 100-day countdown to the Dance Marathon by spelling out “THON” on Old Main Lawn and holding events across campus. The THON students also put together an inspiring 100 days until THON video.
Finally, football fans were able to share in the THON excitement at the Nov. 24 Penn State–Wisconsin football game. A couple of four-diamond families were in place outside the football team’s gates prior to the game. Canning solicitation occurred outside before the game and at the concession stands during the game. Students from the THON 2013 Overall Committee came out onto the field at halftime holding placards that spelled out this year’s theme, “Inspire Tomorrow’s Miracles,” and the Penn State Blue Band spelled out “THON.”
THON continues to grow thanks to the support of alumni and Penn State friends. Gala events in six cities last year raised more than $100,000—and are planned again for this year. Click on the links below for more information and to purchase tickets to these events.
Los Angeles: Lights. Camera. Cure. , Jan. 27
Pittsburgh: Blue White Ball , Feb. 9
New York City: Hope Gala, Feb. 9
Atlanta: Diamonds Over Georgia, Feb. 9
Washington, D.C.: Knight of Diamonds, March 2
Philadelphia: Liberty Ball, March 9
Many other alumni groups hold fundraisers for THON, too. From THON nights at various professional hockey matches to baseball games to raffles and auctions to golf outings, Penn State alumni chapters across the country are busy year round raising money for THON and The Four Diamonds Fund.
Individually, alumni can register to participate in The Hope Express, a 135-mile run in 24 hours from Penn State Hershey Medical Center to the Bryce Jordan Center—symbolically linking the families in Hershey to the THON dancers in State College. In 2012, The Hope Express raised $72,000, with 16 runners braving the long, cold journey. In addition, alumni can also compete for two alumni dancer couple spots to dance in THON. THON Express (as it was first called) began in 2006 and was the brainchild of Hank and Connie Angus, whose son, Gabe, was battling leukemia. The idea is to bridge the families on the seventh floor at the Hershey Medical Center with the dancers at THON by sending encouraging mail, in a kind of Pony Express. For more info on these and other alumni events supporting THON, visit the Alumni Association’s Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group .
THON Fundraising Ideas
If there isn’t a THON event in your area, start your own fundraising effort. THONline fundraising is an easy way to raise awareness for THON. While online, make a one-time donation or visit the THON Store for THON apparel, accessories and gifts, all of which benefits The Four Diamonds Fund.
Alumni who hold a Penn State Rewards Credit Card from Bank of America can help raise money for THON by using an option to donate the cash equivalent of earned reward points (also known as WorldPoints® rewards). Visit www.bankofamerica.com/worldpoints and click on the cash redemption option, select the option to donate to Penn State University, then choose the drop-down box labeled Penn State Dance Marathon and follow the online instructions. Donations begin at 2,500 points and can be made up to the cash equivalent of accumulated points. The entire donation goes directly to THON. Click here to apply and refer to the disclosures that accompany the online credit card application for more information about associated rates, fees, costs, and benefits.
For more information on THON 2013, visit www.thon.org.
What is your favorite THON memory while you were at Penn State? Share your story with us at AlumnInsider@psu.edu.