THON + Personal Scare = Deeper Connection

Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately shortened to just “THON”. Twelve million dollars raised this past February and just as many wishes for a cure for cancer.

I begin with their mission statement:

“The mission of the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon is to conquer pediatric cancer by providing outstanding emotional and financial support to the children, families, researchers, and staff of the Four Diamonds Fund. FTK (For the Kids)!

According to the THON website, “One in every 330 Americans will develop cancer by the age of 20. On the average, 12,500 children and adolescents in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year.” Wow, these numbers are just astonishing to me. 

The dedication and the accomplishments of THON truly make a difference to support and bring awareness to reduce these numbers.

I always knew what THON was and was a supporter of it, but it didn’t crystalize until recent events in my family’s life.

Following a potential cancer scare with one of my daughters and being blessed by getting good news right during THON weekend, it really made me think about all the families affected by cancer. I struggled with many moments of the emotions around a “it could have been my child” situation.

I have discovered so much information on the THON website regarding the students’ efforts to conquer pediatric cancer.

As a student, mother, and part of the Penn State family, I ask you to please take a moment out of your busy schedule and see for yourself the amazing work THON has done and continues to do.

There is a tab titled “families” where you can read and get to know the families.

If you can, there is a donation tab, feel free to donate as much or as little as you can. I BELIEVE, as one of the banners on the site says, even $1.00 helps.

I would encourage all of you to listen to the episode of PawCast titled “THON and the Fight against Pediatric Cancer”, so you can gain a greater understanding of the impact of THON. The episode features the firsthand account of a World Campus student who is a cancer survivor and a THON child.

I had the opportunity to speak with a THON participant and past Morale Captain, senior and General Science major student Jennifer Leydig, and she shed tremendous insight on the THON experience. It was not just by what she said, but also with the passion she expressed while speaking:

“Each organization, whether it be a fraternity, sorority, or group created among the students has the opportunity to “adopt” a family. The Four Diamonds families open their homes to students and these students are there to be a support system for the families and the kids by providing emotional support. The students visit, play, laugh, talk and simply spend quality time with the kids. As for the kids, it is a time to hang out with the “big kids” and for a moment forget they are sick. THON is not just about the money; it’s also about the emotional support. Just like their mission statement says. For most families, the emotional support the students provide is what matters most. It lets these families know they aren’t fighting this battle alone.”

Let us, as World Campus students, help these families fight the battle.

We Are, and will always be, Penn State.