The annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, also known as THON, is year-long fundraising effort that culminates in a 46-hour no sleeping or sitting dance marathon that is held over a weekend each February at the Bryce Jordan Center. THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world involving more 15,000 student volunteers across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania The mission of the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon is to “conquer pediatric cancer by providing outstanding emotional and financial support to the children, families, researchers, and staff of the Four Diamonds Fund”. The funds raised through THON go directly to the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and benefits the Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The goal of this fund is to offset all expenses that a family’s insurance will not cover as well as support research efforts in the fight against pediatric cancer. THON has grown into the largest student run philanthropy in the world. More than 2,000 families have received support from the Four Diamonds Fund. No family is ever turned away. Since 1977, THON has raised over $141 million explicitly “For the Kids” or “FTK”. In 2016 THON raised a grand total of $9,770,332.32!
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THON is a massive undertaking by the students at Penn State. The majority of the student body and all of the Commonwealth campuses participate in some manner; whether on a THON committee planning events for the families, coordinating entertainment for the weekend, acquiring food donations, enforcing rules and regulations to keep students safe, and creating campus fundraising events or raising funds on behalf of their organizations. The event has grown each year since 1977 due to increased awareness and participation and is the nation’s and the world’s largest student run philanthropy from its humble beginnings in Recreation Hall moving to the White Building, and now at the Bryce Jordan Center, the basketball arena that holds more than 13,000 spectators.
The biggest motivation for Delta Zeta members to participate in this event is our two THON children. Our organization “Delta Zeta and Delta Tau Delta”, also known as “DTDZ” sponsors two THON families so we can directly see how our efforts benefit children battling cancer and support their families. Our families are the Marras and Mosers. Max Marra is 10 years old and was diagnosed in 2011 with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when he was 7. He has been going to Hershey Medical Center since his diagnosis and is currently undergoing treatment. Dylan Moser is 14 years old and was diagnosed with ALL at the age of 2. He has also been going to Hershey Medical Center since his diagnosis and has been cancer free since the summer of 2008. Dylan and Max are what THON is all about. Seeing how happy this weekend makes them, along with how much they appreciate every little thing life has to offer gives the whole chapter the energy to continue raising money for this worthy cause and our dancers the strength to stay awake and on their feet for 46 hours.
This year “DTDZ,” raised a total of $120,608.85, beating our total from last year! We had 7 dancers for our pairing that stood for the entire 46 hours, 4 of them being fellow Delta Zetas — Seniors Julie Hannan, Emma Shor, Audrey Cillo, and Kerry Hannan. DTDZ had a Batman themed shirts this year saying “It’s always darkest before dawn, but it gets lighter when we THON.” We are so proud of our THON children and our dancers! The weekend was a huge success and we are already planning for next year!