Dance Marathon, aka THON, is the largest student run philanthropy in the world. They raise money throughout the year for the Four Diamonds Fund for Pediatric Cancer. The money goes towards research as well as supplementing heath care costs for the families being treated at the Hershey Medical Center. The fund raising culminates in a 46 hour Dance Marathon.
This was Tony's first time seeing what THON is all about. (I had included it in my 101 in 1001 list as well to make sure he saw what all the hype was about) We got there Saturday afternoon when the dancers had already been going for 20 hours. Right as we showed up Velveeta was taking the stage. They were one of my favorite local bands in college. They play 80's cover songs and rock it out. It was amazing see all the dancers and spectators rocking out to Journey's Don't Stop Believing.
We stuck around for a couple hours cheering on the dancers and just taking in the scene. At one point a man got on stage and told his story of when and how THON helped him. In 1988 he was diagnosed with cancer and was given 24 hours to live. Thanks to THON, he was able to get the transplants he needed, the treatments he needed, and has been cancer free for almost 20 years. There was not a dry eye in the house.
I wanted to make sure we got to see the line dance being done at least once. They have a new line dance each year that brings in some Penn State history, current events, and motivation for the dancers. Here is this year's line dance:
We went back Sunday morning for another couple hours. We got there at 8am when the dancers still had 8 more hours to go. By the time we left at 10, the place was at capacity. They were counting heads leaving to let folks in at another entrance.
All in all Tony was very impressed. Not only are there over 700 dancers, but there are thousands cheering them on the whole time. The Fraternities and Sororities, organizations and clubs with Dancers are out through the whole time keeping the place rocking. One of the best moments was when the Gary Glitter cheer started and instead of yelling P!!! S!!!!! U!!!! Let's Go P-S-U!!! it was F!!!! T!!!!!! K!!!!! THON ON! FOR THE KIDS!
By the time we got home, I logged online and watched the final hours live. Their total this year was over $9.5 MILLION, over $1.5 Million than last year!!!!
It really makes me proud to be a Penn State Alumni to see such love poured out each and every single year for these kids.
“When they say, ‘We Are Penn State,’ this is what they are talking about.” - Joe Paterno