The Penn State community came together last weekend Feb. 18-20 to participate in the 50th THON, a 46-hour no sitting no sleeping dance marathon. THON is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy.
The combined efforts of donors accumulated a total of $13.7 million for the Four Diamonds fund, which financially cares for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Thanks to THON, not one family has ever seen a medical bill.
Due to the tumultuous year of pandemic restrictions and Covid scares, THON was held virtually in 2021. With proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test, and masking, THON was back in the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC) this year. More than 700 dancers stood at 6 p.m. on Friday, kicking off the weekend’s events.
The first national acts took place Friday evening. DJ Dosk and Chelsea Cutler performed in front of a packed BJC, keeping the energy alive. Dancers enjoyed their first meals and watched as sororities, fraternities, and other organizations danced with them for the entirety of the night.
The famous line dance was introduced, recapping the year’s events in a catchy sing-along dance routine. Some of the major events included Betty White’s death, El Jefe’s opening downtown, the new arboretum project, and President Barron’s retirement paired to popular tracks like “Toxic” by Britney Spears and “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo.
Saturday brought more special events, like the pep rally featuring Penn State athletic teams competing in a dance off for the reigning title. Men’s soccer took home the crown after performing in front of thousands of spectators who were wearing matching white pep rally t-shirts.
Penn State head football coach James Franklin made a special appearance and introduced LA Rams Super Bowl champ Nick Scott to the crowd. Other special guests included Pat Freiermuth, Sandy Barbour, and Micah Shrewsberry.
To top off Saturday evening, national act Bea Miller took the stage to perform her hit songs. The electricity was radiant throughout the entire BJC as Miller sang her hits such as, “Bored,” “Making Bad Decisions,” “Feel Something,” and others.
Sunday featured the Final Four, which are the final four hours of the 46-hour marathon. During the Final Four, there is one hour dedicated to THON families. This allows the families to share their stories and spark inspiration amongst the dancers to keep going until the end. Then a “Where Are They Now” video gives an update on the children who beat cancer and what successes they’re up to now. This is followed by the “Celebration of Life” video, featuring clips of the angels who are no longer with us.
To amp the energy back up after family hour, Go-Go Retro performed cover hits of the decades. The band sang “30 in 30,” which debuted 30 songs from the 80s in 30 minutes. The crowd was re-energized and feeling good for the final hour, ignoring the pain in their feet as they screamed “Come on Eileen” from the tops of their lungs.
Finally, it was time to reveal the total. A year of donations all leading up to this moment. The crowd was silent as the boards individually went into the air revealing the numbers. $13,756,348.50. The crowd erupted into cheers and sobs of joy as a sense of pride and shock swept over. THON 2022, Spark Endless Light, set a new record for their fundraising efforts.
The 50th THON is now in the books and the Penn State community is ready to prepare for next year to continue in the fight against pediatric cancer.