THON and Special Olympics See Rise in Donations

STATE COLLEGE, CENTRE COUNTY - Penn State THON and Pennsylvania Special Olympics have seen donations rise since Joe Paterno's passing Sunday morning.

The Paterno family has asked that contributions remembering the legendary coach be made to the two organizations.

Leaders from both organizations say the uptick is more proof that Paterno will live on through both THON and the Special Olympics, which were two of Paterno's great passions in life. Leaders say they'e thankful and honored that the Paterno family wants contributions in JoePa's passing to go there.

Organizers at Pennsylvania's Special Olympics office in Norristown, Pa. say they've received more than $33,000 in online gifts this week. Leaders say this number will grow because hundreds of donations they've received in the mail still need to be counted.

"Throughout the week we have seen an outpouring of support, which I think is a testament both to Joe's impact and the number of people he has touched, as well as, the generosity of the Paterno family," said Matt Aaron, the CEO and President of Pennsylvania Special Olympics.

Joe and Sue Paterno have spent more than 20 years volunteering for the Special Olympics. Both are in the organization's Hall of Fame. Sue has served on the Board of Directors and Summer Games Committee. Joe was involved in the Summer Games as well and constantly, got the Nittany Lions involved in helping others.

"Many times [Joe was] speaking with our athletes in opening ceremonies, leading in the 'We Are Penn State,' cheer," said Aaron. 

On the University Park campus, THON organizers say they've been getting more calls from donors since JoePa's passing. Students say they've had emotional conversations with people wanting to help.

"I think some of the stories we've heard, there's just people that feel that they need to do something or would like to do something just to honor him," said Kirsten Quisenberry, the chairperson of THON's public relations campaign.

Thon doesn't release fundraising figures until the end of the fundraising year. Aaron says the Special Olympics is unsure what it'll do with the gifts, but most likely, it'll serve some of it's 20,000 athletes across the state.

You can make a donation through the THON or Special Olympics websites.

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