Thon is the world’s largest student-run charity, which is like a dance-a-thon, pep rally, rock concert and tent revival all in one. For 41 years, the students at Penn State have raised tens of millions for pediatric cancer research and family care. They have raised over $101 million and even financed a wing at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
Thon is the capstone to a year’s worth of fund-raising. Since 1977, students have supported the work of the Four Diamonds Fund, which helps the families of children with cancer meet the needs that insurance will not, as well as finance research.
The actual event, called Thon happens every February when about 700 couples pack the Bryce Jordan Center for the dance-a-thon. No one is dancing the whole time. The rules are that they must stay awake for 46 hours and stay on their feet. It is a test of endurance; yes, it is uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but when they start to buckle and hallucinate, they remind themselves that if children can go through cancer therapy, they can tough it out. It’s not just the moralers that make this work, the whole Center is filled with people, supporting, cheering, helping, knowing this is for a good cause. They are broken down and brought back up. If you ask me, Thon is truly a metaphor for Penn State. Forget what you think you know, this reveals the true nature of the students and the school. I am proud to be an alumnae. We are Penn State!