STATE COLLEGE, Pa (WTAJ) – THON is 46 hours of students nonstop dancing and standing, all for a cause bigger than themselves.
Thon dance marathon weekend has become nationally recognized as a huge fundraising event, with proceeds benefiting children with cancer.
While most only see the final outcome of THON through pictures and photos, the planning begins months in advance.
“At the beginning of the year, we select about 700 dance relation committee members, they attend weekly meetings that go over different practices such as stretching, if they’re giving different medical scenarios, how they would handle those for different situations that may arise THON weekend.” Said, Taylor Muzinic, PSU Senior, Dance Relations Director.
A look at the THON floor Friday morning while students set-up the area.
As dance relations director, Taylor is in charge of making sure the dancers are safe and organized leading up to THON weekend, as well as determining which individuals and groups on campus will be dancing at THON.
Safety is key, which is why the dance relations committees work closely with the hospitality committee, who is in charge of making sure dancers, groups, and THON families are hydrated and fed around the clock.
The hospitality committee does training of their own to properly prepare the food.
“We definitely do a bunch of food safety training throughout the year, we have power-points in a lot of our meetings because everyone goes through a mandatory module online to make sure we are food safe, food trained and basically making sure we apply those practices to THON weekend we are serving large quantities of food to a large amount of people.” Said, Ryan Humbert, PSU Senior, Hospitality Director.
Some of the food includes fruits and vegetables, salads, pizza and more from local businesses and bigger chains to provide well-rounded options for those who attend.
While hospitality and the dance relation committees are important, the official THON merchandise store has helped make THON’s brand global. Their innovative designs require a lot of research and planning.
“Our data and analysis forecasting captains have the chance to look back at previous THON weekend sales data and group together similar products they sold throughout the weekend, and once we have that kind of information, and we can assess what sort of numbers we want for the upcoming THON weekend, we use that information to decide which new products we’d like to design.” Stated Alex Thomas, PSU Senior, Merchandise Director.
The THON store has expanded to an online, giving people from all over the country opportunities to represent THON.
All the money raised from THON goes directly to Four Diamonds, an organization that helps children and families conqueror childhood cancer at Penn State Health. Since 1977, THON has helped raise over $168 million, including over $10 million last year.
Suzanne, the executive director of four diamonds, says the support the students constantly give to the Four Diamond families is what stands out most about THON.
“One of the most beautiful things that I have seen is that students will show up for families. They will show up to celebrate things like a graduation, or a special event but they also show up when times are hard, so if there’s been a relapse, or if a child dies, they show up to support the family…And likewise, the families will show up for graduation, send messages of support during finals week.”
THON has truly become a platform for showing the unique bond between families in need, and the students willing to give.
Go to THON.org to support this cause.