“Yes, THON Weekend looks different this year, but our mission has not changed,” said Solomon, a fifth-year student studying criminology and sociology. “We are still dancing for the kids. We are still supporting families and funding research. We are still together, even if we’re remote.”
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic necessitating social and physical distancing for public health and safety, Solomon said that THON’s executive committee knew the traditional THON Weekend event inside the Bryce Jordan Center would not be feasible this year.
More than anything else, Solomon said that safeguarding the health and well-being of all members of the Penn State and THON communities, including Four Diamonds children and their families, was their number one priority.
“We realized that we had a decision to make: either we could call it quits, or we could figure out how to make it work,” Solomon said. “And when we thought about our mission, when we thought about what we do and why we do it, we knew we would make it work.”
Samantha Koon, THON public relations director and a fifth-year student studying education theory and policy, said planning this year’s THON Weekend has been challenging, but these challenges have also presented new opportunities for THON. The improved livestream experience is something that will continue to enrich THON Weekend moving forward, and the virtual format means that community members across the globe can participate as dancers in THON this year.
“The difficulties we faced ultimately proved to be opportunities to do better for the organization and our mission,” Koon said. “I’m really excited that this year we’re able to bring the magic of THON to Penn Staters all over the world.”
Addison Albert, a senior studying broadcast journalism who will be dancing at THON this year, agreed that shifting to a remote format for this year’s big event has been an important opportunity to “refocus on our shared mission.” For her, everything THON does comes back to the Four Diamonds families and the children fighting pediatric cancer.