Posts tagged ‘THON’
A documentary screening doesn’t sound like the first thing a college student would do at 10 p.m. on a Friday. So when I saw a plethora of THON student volunteers pour into the State Theatre on Friday night––many sporting dresses, high heels, ties, and slacks, no less––you could say I was surprised.
But the featured documentary,Why We Dance: The Story of THON, helps to explain what 15,000 Penn State students devote themselves to every year––the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, Penn State’s Interfraternity / Panhellenic Dance Marathon (otherwise known as THON). That’s a reason to dress up.
Why We Dance chronicles the year-round efforts put toward Four Diamonds families and the 46-hour dance marathon, which, since 1977, has raised about $88 million dollars for pediatric cancer.
THON is a culture of its own. If you walk down College Avenue and see dozens of people sporting Penn State shirts and sweatpants, you’ll see that many people wearing THON gear, too. I recently noticed that almost 200 of my Facebook friends posted the THON 2013 promo video, especially when THON “captains” were selected. The energy of these students involved is palpable; Kevin O’Connor, a Rules and Regulations captain sitting next to me in the State Theatre on Friday night, agreed with a laugh that THON volunteers are “a different breed” of people––it’s like they’re perpetually over-caffeinated and just excited about life.
Right before the film began, I heard a student volunteer blurt out that (more…)
Back when I covered Penn State sports for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I routinely heard from readers who thought we were devoting too much space to the Nittany Lions. I always explained how many Penn State alumni live in Allegheny County, and I added that in any case, given that Penn State was only three hours away, it deserved coverage anyhow. Sometimes, the readers came around to my way of thinking.
I can’t imagine that anyone in my hometown is complaining about this, though. In its annual Best of the ’Burgh issue, Pittsburgh Magazine looks two and a half hours east (thank you, Route 22 upgrades) to name its “Best All-Night Dance Party.” That’s right, THON.
You have to scroll down here to see the full entry, which starts, “Strangely fitting that of all the ’70s dance parties, only THON survived,” and ends with this: “Only students may dance, though anyone is eligible to donate. No velvet ropes here.”
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Earlier today, a couple of us were trying to figure out what percentage of the student body is participating in THON, which officially gets underway at 6 p.m. Friday—in a little less than two hours. We’re not sure, but we’re guessing between a third and a half of the students at the University Park campus are involved somehow—dancers, volunteers, cheering on from the stands—and there are plenty of students from other campuses here for the big event.
And of course the THON families—children and their parents who are being helped by the Four Diamonds Fund, the reason 700 students will be dancing for 46 hours this weekend at the Bryce Jordan Center—are in town, too.
If you can’t be there, there are still plenty of ways to follow along. Here are some of the best:
And the College of Communications is again dispatching more than 150 students to cover the event, including a live webstream. You can find all of that coverage here.
Last year, THON raised more than $7.8 million for the Four Diamonds Fund. Check back at the end of the weekend for more details from this year’s event.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
As a member of THON’s rules and regulations committee, our intern, senior Oralis Ramos is usually in the background at THON. But this year, she found herself on center stage last weekend as part of a group of students who had their hair cut and donated to Wigs for Kids. Here is her story:
I have always known that I had a half sister about my age, but my father had lost touch with her. Just over a year ago, I had an intense urge to meet her, and my father tracked her down in January 2009. Unbelievably, Emnie was scheduled to have surgery the very next day to remove a cancerous tumor. It was very emotional, and that night we talked for over an hour. She told me she was scared about the surgery, but that it was some sort of miracle that brought us together at this point and time.
Thankfully, her surgery went well, and the follow-up chemotherapy and radiation did, too. She also told me about a promise she made to herself while undergoing the treatment: If her treatment was successful and she was cured, then she would donate her hair to kids with cancer. Like me, she has had long hair all her life, and felt apprehensive, but this was something she had to do. Hearing her inspired me to want to do the same.
I applied to Wigs for Kids, and I was notified that I would get the great opportunity to get my hair cut during THON on stage. Saturday afternoon, I had 12 inches of my hair cut off. It was breathtaking to see the all kids and dancers looking at the stage. As a little girl I always had long hair, and I remember how fun it was to brush and style. It made me happy to know that another little girl can have that feeling back and not be self-conscious because she doesn’t look like the other kids.
After the initial cutting on stage, my hair was styled by a professional and I am now sporting a “bob” that comes down to my chin. It is definitely a different look, but I love it. Plus, looking into the crowd and seeing all the smiling faces let me know that it was 100 percent worth it.
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
First socialite Khloe Kardashian blogged about it. Now it’s socialite-slayer Perez Hilton’s turn. The gossip blogging, oftentimes-most-hated-man-in-Hollywood took a philanthropic turn this morning and dedicated a post to THON:
He didn’t tweet about it (too busy chatting it up with celebs), but for those who judge online importance on number of followers, Perez has 1,772,406 (and growing) followers to Khloe’s 923,263 (and growing).
And his bubblegum-colored, acidic blog ranks in at 177 for most-trafficked sites in the U.S., according to Alexa.com.
The faint of heart should skip the comments—though the usual lewd, crude words are sprinkled with lots of “We are…PENN STATE”s.
Where can THON land next? Will Ashton Kutcher, the most popular man on Twitter, tweet about it next? Stay tuned as blogging and micro-blogging weave a web of publicity for the world’s largest student-run philanthropy.
Amy Guyer, associate editor
Penn State’s THON, the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, is getting a lot of buzz on Twitter today — thanks to celebrity/socialite Khloe Kardashian. Khloe stars on the reality TV show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
Today, she wrote a blog entry promoting THON.
A friend of mine told me about a charity called the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) where students rally together each school year to raise money for the fight against Pediatric cancer. It’s the biggest student run philanthropy in the world, having raised over $61 million in the past 35 years. Each year culminates in a 46-hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon involving over 15,000 student volunteers. It’s comforting and truly inspiring to know that because of these students’ devotion, families have received the support they need, both financially and emotionally.
She then Tweeted about it, and a Twitterfest got rollin’.
Khloe promised to try to respond to any of her 914,950 (and growing) followers who donated to THON. If you know anything about celebrity Twitters, then you know that’s a huge deal for most followers — it’s like getting a personalized autograph, but better. So her 914,950 (and growing) followers started tweeting about THON and Khloe started tweeting about everyone tweeting about THON and — well, check out the progress at her Twitter.
THON even sent her a “thank you” video on Twitvid — a Twitter video, for those less-versed in the Twitterverse.
Wonder if any other celebs will pick it up? Keep checking THON’s Twitter for updates.
Amy Guyer, associate editor
I got an e-mail from John Arnao, the Penn State student who is communications chair for next year’s IFC/Panhel Dance Marathon, letting me know that next Thursday (July 23) is “Penn State Night” when the Phillies host San Diego at Citizens Bank Park. The Alumni Blue Band will perform before the game, and a portion of the ticket sales will be donated to THON. There’s more info at the Phillies’ Web site.
A week later, on Friday, July 31, the Pirates will host the Washington Nationals at PNC Park, and again a portion of each ticket sold will go to THON. The Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group is involved in that one, and you can find out more about that game here.
Tina Hay, editor
Yesterday a Penn State student by the name of Maxwell Kruger sent us some photos he took at THON last month, along with links to several videos he produced. He got access to the catwalks above the Jordan Center and filmed some time-lapse videos from above. The one here shows THON in its entirety, from setup to tear down, in time-lapse video. You can see them taking apart the basketball court, laying down a different floor for THON, the whole bit. Just very, very cool.
Kruger also has a blog where he shows what he’s doing in photography—and he is definitely doing some interesting stuff.
Tina Hay, editor
Ryan Jones, senior editor