MONT ALTO, Pa. — Penn State Mont Alto sent four dancers and more than 60 supporters to the 2020 Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, affectionately referred to as THON, at University Park. The Mont Alto group raised $52,619.61.
The four student dancers — seniors Kirsten Tercek from Upper Strasburg, Pennsylvania, and Madison Shirley from Biglerville, Pennsylvania; and sophomores Jacob Zeigler from Fort Worth, Texas, and Adrian Casey from Duncannon, Pennsylvania — began dancing at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, and stayed on their feet for 46 hours.
The Mont Alto participants were sponsored by the Potomac Valley Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association and raised more than $3,000 through alternative fundraising efforts. Additionally, two different community groups sent money to THON with the Mont Alto students. Gettysburg Rocks, a bi-annual music festival held in February and August in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, raised $30,920. The local annual Mont Alto Polar Plunge is a volunteer-run event sponsored by the Franklin County Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association and supported by the Penn State Mont Alto Alumni Society. This year the Plunge alumni, students and community members worked together to raise $13,500 for THON 2020.
“We appreciate and are grateful for all of the community support and for everyone who came together to host events and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer,” said Donna Rhodes, Mont Alto’s THON adviser. “THON truly is a community effort led by our Mont Alto students, and then, when they get to see firsthand the impact they have while at University Park for THON weekend, it is overwhelming and incredible. They get to see the ‘why’ behind all of their hard work.”
“Overall, THON was an amazing experience,” dancer Tercek said. “It was really a dream come true, everything I wanted. My favorite memory is for sure playing with the kids. I would pass so much time playing catch with kids, and it was so cool to interact with them.”
Anna Genda, a Mont Alto supporter from Hagerstown, Maryland, who was in the stands for most of the 46 hours, said, “THON is probably the only place where you can sob on the shoulder of a complete stranger over a child you've never met. It's like everyone in the room is family.”
In 1972, a small group of dedicated Penn State students held their first dance marathon. That year, 34 dancers participated and raised $2,000. Since then, THON’s presence in the Penn State community has grown exponentially. THON now has 15,000 student volunteers and 700 dancers, and has raised more than $168 million for Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children's Hospital to fight childhood cancer.
The Mont Alto campus continues to support this amazing cause year after year. For more information about THON, go to thon.org.