UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.-- Penn State Athletics again will be heavily involved with the 45th IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.
THON's 700-plus dancers, including four student-athletes and members of the cheerleading and dance teams, will begin standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and not sit down or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Every school day, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer kills more children in the United States than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and pediatric AIDs combined and the cumulative average cost of cancer treatment for one child is $500,000, according to THON.org.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer. To date, more than $136 million has been raised by THON, including $9.7 million in 2015-16, and at least 95 percent of the funds raised at THON are donated directly to Four Diamonds.
Each year, more than 400 Penn State student organizations and 16,000 student volunteers dedicate their time to THON, making it the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Members of Penn State's Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) are active participants in THON, and have run several fund-raising activities again this year including sending solicitation letters to friends and family, the second annual Lip Sync Battle and the annual online auction, which raised more than $13,000. New SAAB fund raising events this year included a Pie-in-the Face, No Shave November, a bake sale and selling football game programs around Beaver Stadium.
In addition to generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families throughout the year.
SAAB has raised more than $40,000 for THON and is in reach of its goal to raise $50,000 to assist in the fight against pediatric cancer.
Those wishing to assist in SAAB's fund-raising efforts and help a great cause by donating directly to THON can do so by visiting www.thon.org and selecting SAAB as the organization whose name you'd like to donate under. The direct SAAB donation link is here.
Four Penn State student-athletes will represent SAAB as dancers:
Carly Celkos (field hockey, senior, Berlin, New Jersey)
Jessica O'Neill-Lyublinsky (women's fencing, senior; North Salem, New York)
Megan Schafer (women's soccer, junior; Langhorne, Pennsylvania)
Charlie Shuman (football, junior; Pittsford, New York).
Jessi Purawic and Carly Waters from the women's rugby team are dancing in THON, representing Penn State Rugby. Also dancing in THON are Holly Johnson, Kelli Long and Alex Preziosi from Penn State Cheerleading and Jacqueline Ferre, Alexa Gumbati and Veronica Rossi from the Lionettes Dance Team.
In addition to the dancers and several committee members, numerous other student-athletes both attend THON and participate in Student-Athlete Hour and a THON favorite, the pep rally. A record 18 teams will be dancing in the pep rally, which is one of the highlight events during THON.
A number of Penn State teams will host families as part of the THON 2017 Explorers Program, including the men's hockey team, which hosts No. 5 Minnesota Friday and Saturday night. The football program will host approximately 20 THON families at the Lasch Building in conjunction with the THON Explorers Program on Saturday.
This year's THON marks the 10th anniversary of the event in the Bryce Jordan Center, having previously being held in the HUB, White Building and Rec Hall.