Posts tagged ‘Four Diamonds Fund’

The Very First THON

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

February 19, 2016 at 2:54 pm 2 comments

Another THON, Another Record

Kelly Tunney of The Daily Collegian took the student newspaper's cover photo.

Kelly Tunney of The Daily Collegian took the student newspaper’s cover photo.

I can’t imagine that by Monday evening, there’s not a Penn Stater on the planet who doesn’t know the news: THON set another fundraising record: $12.3 million dollars.

That’s more than $2 million more than last year’s amount, which shattered the previous record. This year’s total ($12,374,034.46, to be precise) raised the total amount that THON has raised for the Four Diamonds Fund to more than $100 million since 1973. No wonder Penn Staters, who have been saddened by so much of what’s happened over the past 14 months, were jubilant when the total was announced.

But we figured that you might not yet have caught up on the terrific THON coverage, starting with the cover of The Daily Collegian, which you can see here. If you want to get a feel for what it was like to be there, through words and pictures, you’re going to want to check out the following:

Click here to read the main story in the Collegian and for a chart with THON milestones over the years, and go to the Collegian’s home page for links to more stories and more photos. If you want a PDF of the paper, you can click here.

If you want to relive THON as it happened, click here for Onward State’s live blog. (Of course, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom and scroll up should you want to go through the whole 46 hours in chronological order.) There are links to videos, photos, and blog posts here, as well.

The College of Communications goes all-out on THON, too. (Someday I’m going to count the number of student journalists covering THON. But I digress.) You can click here to see how 15 student photojournalists, working in shifts, covered the whole 46 hours, and you’ll also find links to daily coverage, too.

And if all of this makes you want to relieve the highlights from 40 years of THON, check out this history piece, which appeared in the February issue of AlumnInsider, a monthly publication of the Alumni Association.

Let us know about your favorite THON coverage in the comments.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

February 18, 2013 at 6:35 pm 1 comment

Why We Dance: The Story of 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.

Students at the Bryce Jordan Center make the trademark diamond symbol during THON weekend — an image captured in the documentary that will debut this Thursday.

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…)

September 26, 2012 at 10:01 am 2 comments

Hooray for Hollywood

The Alumni Association's Tom Hammond '00 snapped this pic when the grand total was revealed.

Less than three weeks before THON 2012 kicks off at the Bryce Jordan Center, the LA chapter of the Alumni Association hosted an abbreviated version of the dance marathon yesterday in Hollywood. Held at the historic Avalon Theater, “Lights. Camera. Cure.” was a six-hour dance party to support the Four Diamonds Fund for pediatric cancer. The event raised a total of $37,411.40.

And because no Hollywood party would be complete without a celebrity sighting, Rosey Grier ’56 stopped by—and posed for photos on the pre-show red carpet.

Mary Murphy, associate editor

January 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm 1 comment

Paul Levine’s Latest e-Book is “For the Kids”

Ever since my husband bought an iPad, I’ve been wanting to steal it and see how it functions as an e-book reader. I’m a newsprint and hardcover book kind of girl, but he absolutely loves the iPad Kindle app, which has the especially cool feature of reversing the type (white words on black) to make it easier on the eyes.

I’ve got the perfect opportunity now to see for myself. Paul Levine ’69 is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first mystery novel, To Speak for the Dead, by releasing it as an e-book for $2.99—and better yet, donating all proceeds to the Four Diamonds Fund, which benefits children with cancer and their families.

Who could resist that offer? Not me.

I’d never read any of Levine’s work until (more…)

July 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm 1 comment

THON: Not Just for Current Students

Diana Hirsch, left, and Candace Brown represented the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group at THON 2010.

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!”

Everyone at THON wears a their own special T-shirts.

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.”

Diana's friends and family made sure she'd be busy opening packages after Mail Call.

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

February 22, 2010 at 7:34 pm 1 comment

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