Posts tagged ‘THON’

Inside Our November/December 2016 Issue

nd16_cover_webKeep an eye on your mailbox: Our November/December 2016 issue is being mailed out this week to members of the Alumni Association.

On the cover is an image of the iconic elms that decorate central campus. These stately trees along Henderson Mall are just one reminder of the beautiful landscape at University Park. Starting on page 24, “A Natural Beauty” takes a look—literally and figuratively—at some of the 16,000 trees that have defined our campus since 1855.

Also in this issue, deputy editor Ryan Jones writes about Patrick Chambers and his Nittany Lion basketball team. Now entering his sixth season, and with a pair of nationally ranked recruiting classes, his best season yet could be around the corner.

Editor Tina Hay went down to the Department of Homeland Security in D.C. in September to meet with a group of alumni who are tasked with a big job: keep America safe and secure online. Read the roundtable with them, “Watchers of the Web,” on page 34.

Plus, we celebrate the Penn Staters who medaled in the Olympic Games; we interview an elite opera singer who, at the age of 63, is also a student in the School of Music; and we look at the Mini-THONs that have popped up in dozens of middle and high schools.

Send us your thoughts about the new issue by commenting below or emailing us at

Amy Downey, senior editor

October 25, 2016 at 1:17 pm 2 comments

THON to End Canning by 2018

The Bryce Jordan Center stage being built and lit prior to the Penn State Dance Marathon.

THON will phase out canning over the next two years. The announcement was made on Thursday in a letter from the organization’s 2016 and 2017 Executive Directors, calling this a “necessary decision in the best interest of THON and its volunteers moving forward.”

This decision comes seven months after a car accident on a canning weekend that led to the death of a student. THON announced that there will be three canning weekends over the next two years: one from September 23-25, another from October 28-30, and one in September or October of 2017.

“Canning itself relies not only on the time, effort, and personal funds of many volunteers, but involves multiple other University resources for THON to execute a weekend,” the letter read. “We have seen with our fundraising breakdown that canning has remained relatively stagnant and we’ve seen growth in other more sustainable and innovative areas.”

In addition to the plan to eliminate the practice, THON announced a handful of other changes to canning. You can read them here.

Bill DiFilippo, online editor


April 22, 2016 at 11:04 am Leave a comment

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

Have a THON Story?

THORG_63The Penn Stater is seeking THON tales! Alumni who participated in THON at any time in its history are invited to submit their stories to The Penn Stater magazine for an upcoming feature. The magazine is interested in hearing from those who danced, served on a committee, worked behind the scenes, or took part in any other way. Alumni are encouraged to submit anecdotes and other short memories (no longer than 250 words) about any aspect of THON: a canning trip, the preparations for the long weekend, and memories from the weekend itself are just a few examples.

Whether heartfelt, funny, or quirky, the best of the tales will appear in an upcoming issue of The Penn Stater. Stories can be e-mailed to or sent to The Penn Stater magazine, Hintz Family Alumni Center, University Park, PA 16802.

July 10, 2015 at 1:27 pm Leave a comment

Lights Camera Cure

LCC 2015 TotalIn our May/June issue, Gary Werkheiser ’81 Bus talked to us about the Los Angeles Alumni Chapter’s benefit known as Lights Camera Cure: The Hollywood Dance Marathon. The event, which raised over $101,000 this spring, has been a labor of love for the PSULA Chapter president and his wife Valerie Hudak Werkheiser ’81 Bus. “The first year, we hosted about 80 people at our house, which is near the Hollywood sign, and raised a couple thousand dollars,” says Werkheiser, adding that it wasn’t until after that event when they decided to create a formal committee. “My wife and I, together with a group of younger alumni, came up with the idea to do a miniature version of THON, but put a Hollywood spin on it.”

Now in its fourth year, the Hollywood Dance Marathon has evolved into, well, a Hollywood production. The six-hour dance marathon happens in a historic nightclub named the Avalon located in the heart of Hollywood. There’s non-stop entertainment from DJs to dance performances. There’s press. And a red-carpet procession before the event. And those in attendance—about 1,000 people—could hit up the open bar, photo booths, and silent auction.

And, naturally, there were some celebs. Lindsay Arnold from Dancing with the Stars taught the line dance. Actor Ty Burrell ’97 A&A sent a video message for the group, which they aired on screen. And Tom Bradley ’78 Bus, ’86 MS H&HD—who is now with the UCLA football staff—popped in, staying until the very end. “He asked if he could hold up one of the numbers at the final reveal,” says Werkeiser.

But underneath all of this glitz and glam is, of course, the Four Diamonds Fund and helping kids with cancer. Dancers raised a minimum of $300 each to participate and didn’t sit down during the duration. There was a family time, and cancer survivors and their families spoke to the crowd. Proceeds benefitted THON, but they also went to programs at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, which helps to fight pediatric cancer in the local community. “Our alumni base out here is much smaller than back east,” says Werkheiser, adding that this event really connects younger alumni with older alumni. “But the Hollywood Dance Marathon is getting bigger every year.” To date, the event has raised nearly $300,000.

Amy Downey, senior editor

May 4, 2015 at 11:25 am Leave a comment

The Penn Stater Daily — April 7, 2014

What is “Should I watch Jeopardy tonight?” This answer is “yes,” if you want to see a fellow Penn Stater compete for top honors on the classic TV quiz show. Michelle Leppert ’92 of Danvers, Mass., will begin what we hope is a long run of success when Jeopardy starts a new week of shows Monday night.

A big night in the Big House: Michigan announced Monday that the Nittany Lions’ visit to Michigan Stadium on Oct. 11 will be a 7 p.m. kickoff, making it the first Big Ten night home game in Wolverine history. Of course, Penn State and Michigan have some history playing under the lights, including memorable home wins at Beaver Stadium in 2010 and 2013. As for the Big House, there were temporary lights up for the 3:30 kickoff back in 1994. Hopefully you remember how that one ended.

Joining the dance: THON’s spread isn’t just limited to the mini-THONs held at a growing number of middle and high schools. The Alumni Association’s Washington-Greene Counties Chapter recently held its “We, too, Can Dance” charity social. Inspired by Dance Marathon, the event raised $4,750 for the Four Diamonds Fund.

An honor for Mary Jo: The United States Basketball Writers Association announced over the weekend a new award will be named for Mary Jo Haverbeck ’76g, the women’s sports media pioneer who died in January. The Mary Jo Haverbeck Award will honor those who provide special service to writers covering women’s basketball.

Ryan Jones, senior editor


April 7, 2014 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

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