THON Off to the Races

By Ben Manning |

Published 03/10 2014 11:11AM

Updated 03/10 2014 11:16AM

UNIVERSITY PARK, CENTRE COUNTY – THON 2014 officially kicked off at 6 p.m. Friday, with the Bryce Jordan Center full of people dancing and having a good time to raise money for the families like the Beltz family.

“When Xander was 18 months old he was diagnosed with AML which is a difficult type of leukemia, so we just kind of went along for the ride and prayed and hoped,” said Dava Beltz, one of the Four Diamonds families at the event.

Xander Beltz has been in remission for five years and he’s enjoying being a part of THON.

“I like it and it is very fun,” said Xander.

Brittany Hicks raised money in a different way this year, writing “Diamonds in the Air” and selling it on iTunes, with the proceeds going toward the Four Diamonds Fund.

“It shows support for the families and support for the kids,” said Hicks. “That’s what it’s really all about, for the kids.
Other dancers in the crowd have personal reasons, like Tiffany Jarrett and THON Captain Nick Lello.

“It means so much,” said Jarrett, who is dancing for her friend Courtney. “It’s like a weekend where we can pretend she’s still here, we feel her here. She never got a chance to come to THON but we’re keeping her memory alive by coming here.

“Seeing my friend go through that, but then be the happiest kid I know also,” said Lello. “Being able to communicate that to my own friends and peers has been really important.”

There are hundreds of different stories in the crows and everyone dancing will tell you it’s for the kids.

“We’re grateful for everything they’ve done for us and we try to keep that same inspiration and keep moving forward with it,” said Beltz.

Results will be announced Sunday afternoon at 4:15 p.m.

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