By Gabriella Santoliquito
With “hope in every stride,” hundreds raced for the kids Saturday afternoon.
The Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon committees brought together Four Diamonds families and THON organizations and committees for a day of running, games and THON spirit during the 13th annual THON FT5K.
Participants of all ages, dressed in bright colors, tutus and THON paraphernalia, lined the streets along the Bryce Jordan Center and throughout campus after having the opportunity to compete in either a “competitive run” or “fun run” 5K.
After reaching the finish line outside of the BJC, many said they enjoyed the great vibes and motivation that not only their fellow organizations and families gave, but the different THON committees expressed as well.
“My [organization] encouraged me to go faster and keep going,” Aaron Clouser said.
Clouser, a part of the THON organization Boulevard’s Four Diamonds family, said he liked being able to see his entire organization on Saturday and exercise to help fight for children with cancer.
Smiles gleamed from ear to ear as Four Diamonds children decorated cookies, drew pictures and played different sports games with Penn State students.
Beta Sigma Beta and Kappa Delta’s Four Diamonds family members, Greg and Amy Creasy, both said this is their second THON FT5K. They said they enjoy coming to Penn State to see the kids play and catch up with Penn State students after staying in touch with each other prior to the 5K.
Four Diamond’s child Brittany Wagner said her favorite part about being able to come to her first THON FT5K was dressing up “just like THON.”
Wagner’s father, Bob Wagner, said he enjoyed being able to see his family’s sponsor, the Penn State Club Water Polo team, and spending time with them for a great day at his first THON FT5K.
Brittany Wagner said she enjoys THON and the special events leading up to the 46-hour dance marathon in February because of all of the love she feels from everybody who is involved.
Penn State is “definitely” a great place to be, she said.
“Everybody is always all so nice to me and they all care about me,” she said.
Though THON is still a few months away, many students said they were still illustrating their THON spirit while dancing, singing and taking part in last year’s line dance outside of the BJC.
As someone who is very involved with THON at the Penn State Berks campus, Penn State alumna Alexa Wojciechowski said she enjoyed being able to visit University Park for the 5K because she can see the students evolve as they work with the Four Diamonds families.
“It’s absolutely incredible to watch students grow as they learn and work with the kids and the whole [THON] process,” Wojciechowski said.
Looking at all of the kids playing with the different organizations and all of the families who were at the 5K, Wojciechowski said she believes the THON FT5K is absolutely more than “just a run.”
As he made his way through the street lined with zealous onlookers and cheering fans that led to the main dance floor inside the Bryce Jordan Center, it wasn’t only the encouraging yells from the student body that led Penn State University senior Dan Bitner to press forward—it was his sense of devotion to the cause.
In 2012, Bitner was one of the 700 student dancers among the 15,000 student volunteers who helped raise more than US$10.6 million for charity through the 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping Penn State InterFraternity Council (IFC)/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, dubbed THON.
If you see people standing at intersections or storefronts holding enormous cans and signs, dancing and smiling at you, don't be alarmed.
It's a THON "canning" weekend.
This weekend was the second of three canning weekends scheduled this year held in conjunction with Penn State's annual Dance Marathon, commonly known as THON.
Some 10,000 Penn State students scatter throughout Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland to collect money for the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, which benefits the Four Diamonds Fund.
The fund supports research and provides emotional and financial support to families going through battles with pediatric cancer at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center.
PENN STATE, UNIVERSITY PARK - It was a big day of celebration at Penn State Sunday as the 18th annual THON Family Carnival got underway.
Hundreds of Penn State students and Four Diamonds families visited the university's main campus for the festivities.
"It's just a warm up of good things to come," Tim Hamman, of Petersburg, said.
It's a day Tim Hamman's son, Clay, always looks forward to.
"They've been there for us from day one and we met a lot of good people," Tim said. "Clay gets to do a lot of positive things."
Clay was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2005. Three months after treatment, a routine CAT Scan found another tumor, this time, on his right lung.
Now, he's a two-time survivor.