Get Ready for a THON Documentary

August 21, 2012 at 10:05 am Leave a comment

Let’s face it—THON is so big that it’s impossible, probably even in four years of college, to fully grasp the scope of it. Most Penn Staters know the basics: It’s the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, it’s raised $88 million since 1978, about 15,000 students volunteer to help with it every year. And, of course, the dancers stay on their feet for 46 hours.

A new documentary by Penn State Public Broadcasting broadens the picture. Check out the trailer above.

Called Why We Dance: The Story of THON, the documentary takes viewers far from the dance floor. It visits the homes of some THON families, follows some independent dancers as they try to win one of the lottery spots (for students not affiliated with a fraternity, sorority, or other group), and goes canning with the Penn State Croquet Club. Behind-the-scenes glimpses include the creation of the line dance, the overall committee calculating the 2012 total, and a small party in Hershey for the children too sick to attend THON in person.

Of course, by the end, there isn’t a dry eye in the Bryce Jordan Center. I bet there won’t be in theatres and living rooms, either.

WPSU began work on the project in 2010; among the funders is the Alumni Association. The documentary premieres at 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, online and on WPSU television, and some other public television stations around the state. You can read more about the documentary in this news release at Penn State Live and at its official website.

And if you’re so inspired, we’d like to hear your best THON memories for an upcoming feature in the magazine. In 250 words or less, tell us your THON story, and email it to pennstaterletters@psu.edu. Our deadline is Oct. 10.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

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