MONT ALTO, Pa. — Penn State Mont Alto sent four dancers and 50 supporters to participate in THON Weekend, Feb. 15-17, in the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus. During the event, it was announced that the Penn State Mont Alto Benefiting THON organization raised $43,507.26 to fight pediatric cancer, placing it sixth among the Penn State commonwealth campuses. Overall, THON raised $10,621,683.76 this year.
“THON Weekend began Feb. 15 at 6 p.m., when our students put their diamonds up with Austin, our THON child, and his younger brother, Evan, minutes before they stood and began 46 hours of no-sitting, no-sleeping for the kids,” said THON Adviser Donna Rhodes, Penn State Mont Alto activities and program coordinator.
The annual marathon provides support and funding for children’s cancer research as well as patients in partnership with Four Diamonds, an organization that provides aid for families at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
“When I first think of THON Weekend, I’m overtaken by butterflies in my stomach and an overall joy,” said dancer Jacie Buller. “THON is indescribable. It takes my breath away every time I think about it.”
Mont Alto’s THON organization collected money through a variety of fundraising efforts such as sending letters to residents and businesses, asking for corporate donations, hosting a “Mr. Mont Alto” pageant, and a dodgeball tournament, to name a few.
Two events contributed largely to THON’s success. The first annual Polar Bear Splash, sponsored by the Franklin County Penn State Alumni Chapter and Mont Alto Alumni Society in December, raised more than $12,500. In addition, Gettysburg Rocks — a music festival featuring about 130 bands in 17 venues around Gettysburg and Hanover in February — raised $23,634.
Rob Simon, organizer of Gettysburg Rocks, presented Penn State Mont Alto’s THON organization with checks a few days before THON Weekend, according to Rhodes. “That was the largest donation our organization has ever received from the event,” she said.
Rhodes is proud of the students’ achievements. “All four of our dancers — Braydin Sones, Jacie Buller, Cortney Group and Noah Kendrick — made it to the very end,” she said.
While THON is about raising awareness and funds for the Four Diamonds kids and their families, Rhodes says it also teaches students to work together to achieve incredible outcomes.
“It makes me really proud to know our students were working together in the wee hours of the morning, hungry, running on no sleep and literally in pain. It makes me proud to be at Mont Alto,” she said.
THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, has raised more than $168 million and helped more than 4,000 Four Diamonds families since its inception in 1973.