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For over four decades, Penn State University’s THON has been making a difference in the lives of children battling pediatric cancer. What started as a small dance marathon in 1977 has since grown into the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising over $180 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
Every year, THON brings together thousands of students, alumni, families, and supporters for a 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon, held at the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State campus. The event is the culmination of a year-round effort that involves fundraising, awareness-raising, and support for the pediatric cancer community.
THON is more than just a dance marathon – it’s a symbol of hope and resilience, a testament to the power of community and a reminder of the importance of philanthropy. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the history, impact, and future of THON, and explore what makes this event so special to the Penn State community and beyond.
What is thon and what is penn state thon?
What is THON and What is Penn State THON?
THON is an annual dance marathon that takes place at Penn State University to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports children and families affected by pediatric cancer. The event is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world and has raised over $180 million since its inception in 1977.
Penn State THON is more than just a fundraising event. It is a year-round effort that involves thousands of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members coming together to support the fight against pediatric cancer. This includes fundraising efforts, awareness campaigns, and support for the Four Diamonds families.
The culmination of this year-long effort is the 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon held in February at the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State campus. During this time, dancers stay on their feet, often with the support of their moralers, to show their dedication and commitment to the cause. The event is open to the public and attracts thousands of participants and supporters each year.
THON has become a significant part of Penn State’s culture and identity, and it has inspired many other universities and organizations to create similar fundraising events. Through the years, THON has continued to make a significant impact on the fight against pediatric cancer, and it remains a testament to the power of community and philanthropy.
THON’s Impact on Pediatric Cancer: How the Fund Supports Families and Research
The impact of THON goes beyond just fundraising – the event and the Four Diamonds Fund it supports have a direct impact on the pediatric cancer community. The Four Diamonds Fund was established in 1972 by Charles and Irma Millard in memory of their son Christopher, who passed away from cancer at the age of 14.
The Fund provides financial and emotional support to children and families affected by pediatric cancer at Penn State Children’s Hospital. This includes funding for treatment and research, as well as support for families to cover expenses such as travel, housing, and meals. The Fund also supports child life programs, which help children cope with the emotional and psychological aspects of cancer treatment.
Since THON’s inception, the Four Diamonds Fund has benefited greatly from the event’s fundraising efforts. The money raised by THON has funded innovative research projects and clinical trials to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes of pediatric cancer. It has also provided critical support to Four Diamonds families during their cancer journey.
In addition to funding research and support programs, THON also raises awareness about pediatric cancer and the needs of the pediatric cancer community. Through its outreach and education efforts, THON has helped to increase public awareness and understanding of pediatric cancer, and has inspired many people to get involved in the fight against this disease.
Overall, THON’s impact on pediatric cancer is significant and far-reaching. The event and the Four Diamonds Fund it supports have provided hope, support, and resources to countless families affected by pediatric cancer, and have helped to advance the field of pediatric oncology through research and innovation.
The History of THON: How it Became the Largest Student-Run Philanthropy in the World
THON’s roots can be traced back to 1973 when a small group of Penn State students organized a dance marathon to raise money for charity. This initial effort raised $2,000 for the American Cancer Society, and it inspired the creation of the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon) in 1977.
The first THON was held in a small gymnasium on the Penn State campus and featured 39 couples dancing for 30 hours. The event raised $22,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Children’s Hospital, which provides financial and emotional support to pediatric cancer patients and their families.
Since then, THON has grown significantly in size and scope. The event expanded to 48 hours in 1979 before settling on the current 46-hour format in 1992. In the 1980s, THON began to involve more students and organizations, and the fundraising total increased to over $1 million by 1992.
In the 2000s, THON became a major part of Penn State’s culture and identity, with thousands of students and supporters participating in the dance marathon and other fundraising events. The 2007 THON raised over $5 million for the first time, and the event has continued to break fundraising records ever since.
Today, THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, with over 16,500 student volunteers and a network of supporters around the globe. The event has raised over $180 million for the Four Diamonds Fund and has become a symbol of hope and resilience for the pediatric cancer community.
The THON Community: How Students, Alumni, and Supporters Come Together for a Common Cause
One of the most remarkable aspects of THON is the sense of community it fosters among students, alumni, and supporters. THON is truly a team effort, with thousands of people coming together to support a common cause: fighting pediatric cancer.
The THON community includes not only the students who participate in the dance marathon, but also alumni who continue to be involved in THON long after graduation, as well as supporters who contribute in various ways. The THON community is united by a shared commitment to raising awareness and funds for pediatric cancer, and by the belief that together, they can make a difference in the lives of children and families affected by this disease.
Students are at the heart of the THON community, with over 16,500 volunteers from all corners of the Penn State campus coming together to organize and participate in the dance marathon and other fundraising events. These students are organized into committees, each with a specific role in planning and executing THON. The committees include everything from the Entertainment committee, responsible for coordinating performances and activities during the dance marathon, to the Fundraising committee, responsible for organizing fundraising events throughout the year.
But THON’s community extends beyond just the Penn State campus. Alumni who participated in THON during their time at the university often remain involved after graduation, serving as advisors, volunteers, and donors. Many alumni have even started their own THON-related initiatives, such as mini-dance marathons or fundraising events, in their local communities.
Finally, the THON community includes a broad network of supporters, including family members, friends, local businesses, and community organizations. These supporters contribute in a variety of ways, from making donations to attending fundraising events, and help to make THON a truly collaborative and inclusive effort.
Overall, the THON community is a testament to the power of collective action in the face of a common challenge. Through their dedication, passion, and hard work, students, alumni, and supporters have created a movement that has had a profound impact on the fight against pediatric cancer.
How to Get Involved with THON: Volunteering, Donating, and Spreading the Word
If you are inspired by the work that THON does and want to get involved, there are many ways to contribute to this worthy cause. Here are some of the most common ways to get involved with THON:
- Volunteer – THON is a student-led organization, so volunteering is a great way to get directly involved with the event and its related activities. Volunteers can sign up for various committees that are responsible for different aspects of THON, such as fundraising, hospitality, or entertainment. Volunteers can also participate in the dance marathon as dancers, or serve as captains to help lead their respective groups.
- Donate – Donations are critical to the success of THON, as they provide the funding needed to support the Four Diamonds Fund and the children and families it serves. Donations can be made online through THON’s website, and can be given as one-time gifts or through recurring contributions. Fundraising events are also a popular way to contribute to THON, with many students and organizations organizing their own events to support the cause.
- Spread the Word – One of the most important ways to support THON is to raise awareness about its mission and the impact it has on pediatric cancer patients and their families. You can help spread the word by sharing information about THON on social media, by talking to your friends and family about the cause, or by organizing your own fundraising events in your local community.
No matter how you choose to get involved, your support will be greatly appreciated by the THON community and the children and families it serves. By working together, we can continue to make a difference in the fight against pediatric cancer.
Penn State THON is a truly remarkable event that has captured the hearts and minds of countless people around the world. From its humble beginnings as a small fundraiser in the 1970s, THON has grown into the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising millions of dollars for pediatric cancer research and supporting families in their time of need.
One of the most striking things about THON is the sense of community that it creates. Students, alumni, and supporters from all walks of life come together to support a common cause, and the result is a movement that is greater than the sum of its parts. Through their dedication, hard work, and passion, the THON community has made a real and lasting impact in the fight against pediatric cancer.
But THON is more than just a fundraiser or a dance marathon. It is a symbol of hope, of the human spirit, and of the power of collective action. It is a reminder that even in the face of great challenges, we can come together to create something beautiful and transformative.
If you have been touched by the work of THON, we encourage you to get involved. Whether by volunteering, donating, or spreading the word, your support can make a real difference in the lives of children and families affected by pediatric cancer. By working together, we can continue to make progress in the fight against this terrible disease, and create a brighter future for all.
Thank you for joining us on this journey, and we look forward to seeing what the THON community will accomplish in the years to come.