The Very First THON

February 19, 2016 at 2:54 pm 2 comments

In our latest issue, we compiled some really wonderful reader memories from THON. Nearly two dozen stories were published, but we saved this letter about the inaugural Dance Marathon written by Raymond Murphy ’58, ’60—because we think you’ll love to see how far the fundraiser has come, and especially on a day like today.

“The first ‘marathon’ took place in the HUB and my office was directly across the street. On the second night, I saw bleachers rocking into its huge glass windows and I was concerned. I went over to the ballroom and saw that the crowd was nearly out of control. I informed two of my staff that we wouldn’t approve any more events like that and better control was needed. But Mel Klein ’67 and Lee Upcraft persuaded me that an event like that could be held with proper precautions.

Earlier, the student affairs staff and our student radio station sponsored a Sunday call-in show to support the Four Diamonds Fund. Charles and Irma Millard, its founders and the parents of a child who had died from cancer, spoke. Joe Paterno was also present and brought his children along. The children read the book The Four Diamonds written by Chris Millard. The phones started ringing off the hook with contributions—we totaled about $50,000.

The IFC heard of the Four Diamonds Fund and asked about it. They and Panhellenic soon took over and, as they say, the rest is history. The university is justly proud of the Dance Marathon and its long-range impact not only on the fund but on the activity itself. It has been adopted by our other campuses and numerous high schools. A great tribute to the spirit of Penn State students.”

Tell us—what do you remember most about your THON? We’d love to hear from you.


Photo via Cris Guenter

—Amy Downey, senior editor

Entry filed under: From the Magazine. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hostirad  |  April 17, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    I was tickled that the Penn Stater published my memories of playing in one of the bands that donated their time to the first dance marathon. At the same time, I was a bit disappointed that my short paragraph was edited to remove the reference to the fact that I played at the very first dance marathon, I suppose because the editors wanted to make exclusive Raymond Murphy’s interesting account of the first marathon. By the way, the name of the group in the accompanying photograph was Shotgun Wedding, an amalgam of musicians from different groups, all of whom graduated from SCAHS. The long-haired guitar player is Wayne Addleman, whom I had the pleasure of playing with in a previous group. Wayne has gone on to a professional career in Nashville.

  • 2. Tina Hay  |  April 17, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Thanks for the information about Shotgun Wedding! We edited all of the stories we received for that feature, only because we received so many more than we could use—we shortened all of them in the interest of using as many of the submissions as we could.

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