THON: Not Just for Current Students
Diana Hirsch thought she knew what she was in for. She’d danced in THON before, and she had recently participated in AlumniTHON, which gave her the chance to experience a baby-powder massage again.
Hirsch’s second THON, however, wasn’t quite what she expected. Her previous THON was in 1991, and those 19 years did take a bit of a toll. “I don’t remember there being so many peaks and valleys,” Hirsch ’92 said Sunday morning, after about 33 hours on her feet. “There are so many more ups and downs mentally and physically. And all kinds of aches!”
Her partner, Candace Brown ’00, was also dancing after a long layoff; she had last participated 10 years ago, and she couldn’t believe how much THON had grown in a decade. The two were representing the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group, which had two couples in THON 2010.
The last time Hirsch danced, THON was in White Building and raised less than $1 million for the Four Diamonds Fund. The last time Brown danced, THON was in Rec Hall, and raising $7.8 million, the 2010 total, was unimaginable.
Both women had to deal with more outside factors this time around. Brown, for example, fielded cell-phone calls from her three children, 5-year-old Bria, 4-year-old Casson, and 2 1/2-year-old Mayah. She explained that she was tired from dancing for hours, and Bria said, “Mommy, you need to go to bed. You need to go to sleep and rest.” That made Brown laugh, and she answered, “You’re right, but I can’t do that right now.”
They were a bit of an odd couple. Hirsch didn’t want to have any idea how much time remained, so she adjusted the settings on her iPhone so that she appeared to be in Toyko on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. Brown didn’t change a thing; she needed specifics. “I want to know down to the last second what time it is,” she said. “I am not going to be one of those dancers who needs to sit down around 3:50 p.m.” Hirsch got a stack of packages at mail call (see photo at right, by our graphic designer, Jessie Knuth), but Brown, who flew in from Denver, made her family and friends promise to send nothing big. “I travel light,” she said, grinning.
They agreed, however, that they were much less conscious of their appearance than their college-age counterparts. “They’re washing their hair in the sinks in the bathrooms, using hair spray and straightening irons,” Brown said, laughing. “They’re changing clothes five times. Me, I’ve got two shirts.”
And they were of one mind about the most important things: That THON was among the most meaningful experiences of their college years, and that they were thrilled and honored to be back on the floor.
“And we’ve already made plans,” Hirsch said, “to be back here again in 10 years.”
Jessie and I weren’t going to hold them to that, as we were talking at 3:15 a.m. Sunday. For all we knew, they were having some of those fabled hallucinations. But they felt the same way at the end, and given that they weathered 46 hours on their feet as well as—or better than—the students, we won’t be surprised to see them in 2020.
Lori Shontz, senior editor