I post an awful lot about this organization called THON, but many people who are connected with me through social media may not know what that is. Prepare yourself – this is a lengthy post.
“The mission of the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) 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)!”.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? There are a few other important points that you should know:
THON is the World’s Largest Student-run Philanthropy, consisting of over 15,000 student volunteers across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through Penn State’s 24 campuses (source)
Since the Four Diamonds Fund became its sole benefactor in 1977, THON has raised over $101 million dollars to help fight pediatric cancer
Every February, the THON year ends with the actual Dance Marathon event where over 700 students stand for 46 hours without sitting or sleeping (source)
What is the Four Diamonds Fund? Four Diamonds is an organization at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center that covers treatment costs for children fighting cancer while funding cancer research at Penn State’s College of Medicine. The Fund pays for everything a family’s insurance plan doesn’t cover before, during, and after their child’s treatment, along with all gas, meals, hotel fees, and pretty much any other cost they may incur while a child is being treated. Essentially, they ensure each family can keep focused on their child getting better. Because of their efforts, no child has ever been turned away from Penn State Hershey.
Throughout the year, you’ll find Penn State students fundraising through various methods: the iconic canners standing on curb sides, canvassing door-to-door in communities, using THONline Fundraising (internet fundraising), among many other ways. All of these methods come together to produce astonishing totals; last year alone, THON raised $12.3 million by the end of THON weekend with a final total of $12.9 million by the end of the fiscal year. The best part about this is that nearly 96% of all funds raised are donated directly to the Four Diamonds Fund.
Although most people will only hear about the total raised at the end of the weekend, THON goes far beyond fundraising. THON is actually composed of over 700 organizations that are either clubs at Penn State, Greek organizations, or special interest groups solely dedicated to fundraising for THON. Many of these organizations have the privilege of ‘adopting’ a family with a child undergoing cancer treatments at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. When this happens, the organizations become a part of that family, spending time with them through events on campus, dinner at the family’s home, and plenty of other ways. These organizations support their families through thick and thin during treatments and build a strong bond, helping the families get through the experience as much as possible.
From a personal perspective, I don’t know what my college career would be like without THON. Ever since I joined the Technology Committee in my sophomore year, it’s come to define my time at Penn State. Not only has it given me a real-world experience working for a massive, multi-million dollar organization, but most importantly, it has allowed me to apply my strengths in a way that benefits others while providing an exciting gateway into philanthropy.
As we come into the final week before THON, I ask you to please consider making a donation to this wonderful cause if you haven’t already. Your donation truly helps make a difference in the life of a child, whether it helps pay the treatment costs for a family or allows researchers to continue searching for a cure. You can find the online donation link here.
THON 2014 begins at 5PM (EST) on February 21 and ends at 4PM on February 23. If you can’t visit us in the Bryce Jordan Center that weekend, a free webcast is available all 46 hours through webcast.thon.org (I strongly recommend watching the Final Four hours, which is when families speak to the students and the total is revealed).
We stand in 7 days!
For The Kids, Cory
P.S. - There are several videos out there that contain additional information (embedded below), as well as THON.org.