I was back in the Bryce Jordan Center bright and early today for the last several hours of THON 2014. From an emotional family hour, to an energy filled final hour the the building was at capacity with dancers on their feet through the aches and pains. After 46 hours they sat, but only for minutes before they jumped up to celebrate this years grand total of over $13 million! FOR THE KIDS!
After high school wrestling I was back to THON. I met up with some of the Four Diamonds families as they toured the Lasch Football building as part of an event with the Make-A-Wish foundation. The kids darted around the locker room trying on equipment and Spider sent a warm message to all in the room. As I walked into the BJC about 22 hours into the event the building was rocking, as usual. After I edited the first group of photos and got some dinner I decided to head back for the late night fun. I knew the images wouldn’t make it in to print, but we rarely cover the pep rally and I was looking for more photos to continue adding to my gallery. I bumped into one of our local youngsters who has battled cancer, and laughed captured her antics. Then came the friendly dance off competition full of 90′s tunes, flips and entertainment from the sports teams and Blue Band.
One of the biggest weekends in Happy Valley has arrived. It’s THON 2014 weekend!
Each year thousands of Penn State students spend their free time raising money through events, canning weekends, letters and more to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund. The Four Diamonds Fund helps families with the costs of pediatric cancer. The THON fundraising year celebrates with a 46 hour dance marathon, were over 700 students stay on their feet for an entire weekend to dance for a cure. The event grows every year, from those involved, to those who know about it, to the money raised.
Today the big event started off with the arrival of the Hope Express, a group of runners who journeyed from the Hershey Medical Center were many of the pediatric cancer patients are, to State College. They ran 140 miles and all night to connect those at the hospital and those in the Bryce Jordan Center.
The dancers entered the Bryce Jordan Center to cheers through the human tunnel. Dancers met their friends, Four Diamond families, and stretched before the 6 pm stand time. The overall committee counted down to STAND UP and the fun started right away. Dancing, squirt gun battles, bubbles and more.
Then came learning the line dance. The song that will be performed throughout the weekend sums up current events in the last year, with a message to keep the dancers moving and why the event it so important.
The snow was coming down as I got ready for work, and with all the schools close I knew my assignments had been canceled. I layered on the warm clothes and threw my snow pants in the car. As the snow accumulated outside our office I headed out to find snow features. Being fully prepared for the elements I excitedly headed to get a newsy photo as the traffic built up from Penn State dismissing early. Then the fun began as I captured sledding youngsters, snow boarding teens and an adorable puppy.
This afternoon I ventured out to meet Rugar, a friendly German Shepherd. The pup spends his days outside happily running in the back yard from a twenty foot chain, and napping in his heated dog house with a heated water bowl. Lately Rugar’s owner has been getting calls and visits from police of neighbors and passerby’s being concerned about the dog being outside. At first he didn’t mind showing that the dog is safe and healthy with the cold temperatures, but as the visits become more frequent it is taking a toll on he and his wife. I spent a decent amount of time there as the man teared up sharing the story and saying how much he loves his dog, and seeing how much the dog adores him, and is full or energy and excitement to be outside.
It’s been two years since legendary football coach Joe Paterno passed away. He passed away on a Sunday morning and I remember that weekend unfolding and the week long honoring of him that followed. A lot has changed in the community since that cold January, but here on a bitterly cold January night some gathered to remember JoePa. Luminaries with hand written messages lined the sidewalk to the Catholic center that he and Sue donated towards, as a group hummed Penn State songs and reflected.
I never met Thelma “Mom” Price but was honored to photograph her celebration of life this afternoon. Laughter and tears filled the room as the advocate for a diverse Penn State was remembered. I learned so much about the vibrant woman in the two hour service with a wide variety of speakers and some of her favorite songs sung.
It’s been a week on edge as Penn State searched for a new head football coach. Today the official announcement came as they introduced James Franklin as the sixteenth head football coach. Franklin, with a big smile on his face said being the coach at Penn State is his dream job, and answered questions from the media for over an hour. He also introduced his wife and two daughters, and took some time to play around with the girls on the field at Beaver Stadium.
I thought it was going to be a full but relaxing Saturday of creating photos when my phone started to buzz. Crews were onsite starting to demolish the Garman Theatre, a building that’s been a hot topic since it was severally damaged by fire over a year ago. A group has been petitioning the building being torn down in hopes of restoring it to an arts center but on Saturday they watched as their vision was down. I spent about two hours before crews took a lunch break and stopped back several times throughout the day as they slowly lifted debris into trucks to be hauled away.
By mid morning today the snow was coming down and instead of putting a damper on Victorian Bellefonte Christmas it added a new buzz and feel to the yearly event. Happy Christmas was heard along the streets from members of Dickens theater company, craft vendors shared their art and the horses trotted proudly up High Street.
The snow made for unique and beautiful photographs, but also made focusing a lot more difficult that normal. I had several frames of this family in their homemade outfits, but when I returned to the edit them I realized that about half weren’t focused on the ladies, but on planes of snow ahead of them. Thankfully I had several that still worked very well, in addition to some of Santa opening the doors to his shop.