The final hours of the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon are always the most emotional. With family hour after over 40 hours of being on their feet, the dancers are all ears to laugh, cheer, and cry with the families of Four Diamonds children as they share their stories. Tears stream down everyones cheeks as those who have lost their battle are remembered and honored. But the party returns with the hope and joy that one day Penn Staters will dance in celebration of a cure.
Raise the roof, don’t stop, don’t stop
Diamonds, up top, up top
Together, one family
Magic, the BJC
For the dreamers all year long
We Are! Penn State Strong!
The chorus of the line dance filled my ears as I walked onto the floor of the Bryce Joran Center today, less than 24 hours into the 46 hour Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
I started out focused on the entertainment crew, piecing together memories from the weekend on the stage, and pumping the beats to keep everyone moving.
Covered in baby powder from the Slides of Strength, silly string in my hair from a laughing Four Diamonds child and squirt gun spots on my shirt didn’t matter, it was fun to be capturing the energy and excitement.
The 46 hour Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon started tonight with over 700 dancers jumping to their feet. After the pre celebration and lots of stretching the dancers were greeted with beach balls, squirt guns and the Four Diamonds families ready to play. They also learned this years line dance, full of pop culture and Penn State facts to keep them moving through the weekend.
I hadn’t even gotten the door closed yet when adorable 4 year old Paula jumped up the stairs to the landing and asked if we could play. She didn’t want me to take photographs, instead I helped her build a lego castle, had to put my camera down to dance with her, and pretended to slurp up a delicious puzzle piece soup, with salt, pepper and chocolate. I snuck a few photos in among the play time and would never have guessed that the giggling ball of energy has battled tumors and has doctors still looking for an exact cause. Paula is a Four Diamonds child who just loves the chance to play with the college kids who have adopted her and her family through Thon. Though her immune system won’t be strong enough to attend the 46 hour dance marathon this weekend, she’ll be dancing at home!
Bitter air and windy gusts couldn’t stop hundreds from coming out for the annual THON 5k race this morning. With THON, which raises money for pediatric cancer, growing every year, all of their events do too. Penn State students rallied around the Four Diamonds families as they ran the roads of campus.
THON is the biggest weekend in February for Penn Staters and Four Diamonds families across the region. But the fundraising efforts reach way beyond Penn State’s efforts and mini thons are popping up in schools everywhere. Tonight the State College Middle Schools hosted their dance marathon to raise money for families battling pediatric cancer. With several Four Diamond children among them the students danced and cheered to their own line dance and activities.
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.
Tonight’s hockey game was full of intensity after Boston College crushed Penn State less than a month ago. In addition it was THON night at the game with local THON families being introduced. And the most memorable moment of the night came unexpectedly when player David Glen received a standing ovation from the crowd for taking several games off to donate bone marrow. The donation will occur later this week but Glen was unable to play in the game as he prepares for the procedure.