Last weekend, on February 21st, students at Penn State University took a stand for 46 hours against pediatric cancer in their annual THON fundraiser. THON is the largest student run philanthropy in the world, working to provide emotional and financial support to pediatric cancer patients and their families, as well as raise funds necessary for research in search of a cure. Since 1977, students at Penn State have raised awareness and funds for the Four Diamonds Foundation in yearlong efforts leading up to their dance marathon.

In this year’s long mission, students at Penn State, and people around the world, raised a total of $11,696,942.38 for the Four Diamonds Foundation at Pennsylvania State Children’s Hospital.

THON 2020 total from https://www.collegian.psu.edu/news/campus/thon/article_2175f860-568c-11ea-aa28-53fe41f0c78c.html

Over the years, as more people became aware and involved in PSU’s fight against cancer, high schools in the surrounding areas have fundraised alongside Penn State in what is known as a “Mini-THON,” a fundraiser organized in a similar style leading up to a 10 hour dance marathon.

The year-long’s worth of preparation that goes into a fundraiser of this capacity requires the passion, organization, and determination of many. Penn State’s THON started with the idea of one student and has grown into thousands of student volunteers participating in a worthwhile cause. With its growth, THON has partnered with several companies and been promoted on several news broadcasting sites for their commendable work.

Universities and high schools have started dance marathons of their own: fundraising and spreading awareness for similar causes that they are passionate about. Students go canning around the state, hold smaller fundraisers such as 5ks, host restaurant nights where a portion of funds are donated, and meet with members of the organization they are working with throughout the year.

Dancers during THON weekend reflecting on the Four Diamonds mission, the work put into this event, and why they are dancing.

When looking at the success these events bring, myself and many others may look at this in awe. The beauty I find in events such as THON is that you are getting to be a part of something that is bigger than yourself. Students from different clubs, organizations, and sports teams all can play a role in this philanthropy. It can bring all students together working for a greater good. It’s different than individual organizations working for a cause on campus, as it brings members together regardless of other things they are a part of on campus.

I wonder if SJU would ever consider doing something similar to THON, or Nova Dance at Villanova, where many organizations come together and work together with a similar goal intended. Has this been an idea in the past? Has someone ever attempted this before? Or, is there something like this that just goes unnoticed by the student body?

As Penn State’s THON 2020 came to a close, there are already plans to begin for this time next year. Volunteer applications are going out, dates are being set, and ideas are being brainstormed. Every year, when I watch the total revealed on ABC News’s livestream, I think to myself: “wow.” The thoughts, ideas, and emotions of all the work and passion can be overwhelming.

I leave the livestream of Penn State’s THON with a reminder that is often overlooked. It isn’t about the total (though it is always remarkable), but about the power people have when they work together. It only takes one person to inspire many. The power students have is influential and can lead to such positive impacts. THON is just one example of what a community can do together… so what can we do with ours?

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