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THON Weekend Provides Unforgettable Moments

Describing THON Weekend is difficult because it’s more than just an event, and also because the inspiring efforts from our students and alumni groups take place more than one weekend a year. Still, THON Weekend remains an unforgettable 46-hour experience you have to see to believe.

View of THON from above“Well, it’s a unique mixture of rock concert, pep rally, and dance party. Now add the self-sacrifice of standing for 46 hours, students wearing colorful shirts that brighten the Bryce Jordan Center, and smiles on everyone’s face. It’s a full weekend that unites a community of students, alumni, faculty, staff, and many across Pennsylvania. All the money that Penn State students raise goes to make sure that families with kids fighting cancer never see a bill.”  

That’s how I attempted to describe the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) to a colleague at another university. 

The fact is THON Weekend at the Bryce Jordan Center is impossible to clearly and thoroughly describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it first-hand. I could have mentioned that the families that have benefitted from this support also attend THON and participate in hours of squirt-gun fights, dancing, and meeting the people who have helped save them. 

That’s right—THON saves lives! 

Paul Clifford on stage at THONIn addition to covering every bill of every child fighting cancer, THON also funds cutting-edge research and drug trials at Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. I had the chance to meet Layn Burger at the sixth annual Toast to Four Diamonds sponsored by the Capital Area (Pa.) Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. Led by President Josh Hoch ’09, ’14g, and event chair Robin Tilley ’11, the chapter raised $16,252 for Four Diamonds. At this event, Tami Rodriguez, Layn’s mother said, “We didn’t have the money to pay for a special trial medication that Layn needed, but our doctor told us not to worry. Four Diamonds would take care of it. That treatment saved Layn’s life!” 

Click here to see Layn’s story:

Paul Clifford on stage at THON 2The trouble with describing THON is that it is more than an event. It’s more than raising money to help children fight cancer. It’s more than the research that is saving lives. 

THON is a feeling, like joy and sadness, that a Penn Stater feels when helping others to conquer the impossible. This feeling inspires the courage, wisdom, honesty and strength, the tenets of the Four Diamonds, to continue this dance for a cure. 

Austin Sommerer, executive director of THON 2017 said, “I can’t wait until we can dance in celebration, but until then, we will continue to dance for a cure.”

This year THON, the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, raised $10,045,478.44.

THON grows leaders.

THON inspires a community.

THON changes lives.

THON saves lives.

For the Glory,

A graphic of Paul’s Signature
Paul J. Clifford

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