Photo by Annemarie MountzCanners have hit the streets along the East Coast and runners sped through campus “For the Kids.” It’s official—the countdown to THON 2011 is underway.
Since 1977, the Penn State/IFC Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately known as THON, has raised more than $69 million for The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital—helping more than 2,000 children diagnosed with pediatric cancer. In 2010 alone, THON raised more than $7.9 million.
The actual two-day dance marathon, this year Feb. 18–20 at the Bryce Jordan Center, is the culmination of a yearlong effort on behalf of students, alumni and Penn State friends across the country.
Photo by Andy Colwell
Racing Toward THON—Fall Events
THON kicked off Oct. 17 with a 5K race as more than 4,000 runners sped through campus. Just like the Dance Marathon, the THON 5K outgrew its original venue so the start was moved this year to the BJC. All proceeds from the 5K go to THON.
During the fall, students also trekked to cities and towns across the East Coast Oct. 22–24 to raise money the old-fashioned way: face-to-face. Canning weekends are a THON tradition, and students often receive national media attention for their canning efforts—this year students were featured on FOX News. Be on the lookout for Penn State canners in major cities during the remaining canning weekends; Dec. 3–5, Jan. 21–23, and Feb. 11–13.
On Nov. 10, students celebrated the 100-day countdown to the Dance Marathon by spelling out “FTK”—For the Kids—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. For the first time, a Penn State football game served as a fundraising event as the Nittany Lions took on the Indiana Hosiers Nov. 20 at FedEx field in Landover, Md. Working with the Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, the NFL’s Washington Redskins donated five percent of game ticket sales to THON.
Photo by Katherine Wahler
THON continues to grow thanks to the support of alumni and Penn State friends. Gala events in five cities last year raised nearly $100,000—and are planned again for this year.
New York City: Hope Gala, Jan. 21
Pittsburgh: Blue White Ball, Jan. 22
Atlanta: Diamonds Over Georgia, Jan. 28
Washington, D.C.: Knights of Diamonds Gala, March 26
Philadelphia: Liberty Ball: A Knight for the Kids, March 26
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, alums can register to participate in The Hope Express, a 135-mile run in 24 hours from Penn State Hershey Medical Center to THON—symbollically linking the families on the seventh floor of the Hershey Med Center to the THON dancers. Last year, The Hope Express raised more than $40,000. In addition, alumni can also compete for two alumni dancer couple spots to dance in THON. Alumni trying for these spots generally raise $4,000–$8,000, although in some years they have raised as much as $15,000 each. For more info on these and other alumni events supporting THON, visit the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group.
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—they’ve done all the work, you just need to click send. 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.
For more information on THON 2011, 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.