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Campus Tops $10,000 Goal for THON

York's THON Dancers
2/11/2009 —

Cutting caffeine and sugar, exercising, and buying new socks, are just a few things Penn State York students Todd Gutierrez, 19; Dan Hood, 19; Jes MacDonald, 24; and Danielle Weekley, 20 are doing as they get ready to head to University Park to represent the campus in the Thirty-seventh Annual IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, “Dream Forward,” set for Feb. 20 – 22 at the Bryce Jordan Center.  This is the second year York has sent four dancers to the big event.  The four were chosen to dance based on spirit points they earned since September by doing a variety of activities to raise funds for THON and promote the event.  THON, as the dance marathon is affectionately known, is the largest student-run philanthropy in the country and its goal is to raise money to help fight pediatric cancer.   Penn State York has already topped its $10,000 goal, an amount they have tried to surpass for many years.

For York’s dancers, and members of the campus’ THON committee the year has included a variety of fundraising efforts such as selling tickets to a 76ers basketball game, hosting a talent show called Paw Search, manning the coat check at the Pullo Family Performing Arts Center, selling Bon Ton community day books, and successfully taking part in canning weekends (soliciting donations) at several locations in the York area.  Under the direction of Jenn Bradley, 20, who was a THON dancer last year; and Mandy Clements, 20; York THON co-chairs, the group has been very successful.  “The year started off with a bang and our momentum continued to grow after the first and second canning weekends,” said Bradley.  “I am so proud and so excited to finally top that $10,000 mark,” she said.  “Everyone has worked together to reach that goal and we’re not done yet!”

In addition to raising money, the dancers have also become close with Madison “Maddie” Hill, “York’s THON child” and her family.  Through THON,  Penn State York sponsors the Hill family and over the past three years, dancers and the campus community have grown close to them.  Hill, 11, of Dover, Pennsylvania, has been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since October 2004.  She completed her treatments in February 2008 and is in remission.

THON, a year-round fundraising event benefits The Four Diamonds Fund, Conquering Childhood Cancer, at the Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey, PA. The year culminates in a no-sitting, no-sleeping, two-day dance marathon. Throughout the past 36 years, the students of THON have raised more than $52 million and have helped thousands of children and families fight pediatric cancer.   Last year the event raised more than $6.6 million and broke its own record. The mission of the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon is to conquer pediatric cancer by providing outstanding emotional and financial support to the children, families, researchers, and staff of The Four Diamonds Fund.

Gutierrez is a sophomore majoring in communication arts and sciences with a minor in theatre.  He is a graduate of Milton Hershey High School and has been involved with THON since his first semester at Penn State York.  Gutierrez attended THON last year and dressed in a Tigger costume to motivate York’s dancers whose color was orange last year.  “I got interested in THON when I found out that it had a connection with the Hershey Medical Center.  Since I went to Milton Hershey School, I thought it was only a natural progression,” said Gutierrez.  “It is an honor to be chose to participate in THON, not only will it be a life changing experience for me, but it will make the difference in the lives of a lot of families.”

Hood is a sophomore majoring in economics and a graduate of New Oxford High School.   He has been active in THON for two years and has participated in a variety of events.  Hood attended THON last year to help support the dancers and was inspired by what he saw.  “Thinking about the kids, I believe, is what will help me to pull this off and make it for 46 hours," he said.  “I am most excited for the culmination of all the hard work of so many to finally come together.  There will be a lot of great people at THON and, of course, the kids will be there and that’s the reason we do all of this.”

MacDonald is a junior majoring in English and a 2002 graduate of Kennard Dale High School.  She was married last semester but that didn’t keep her from being involved with THON and earning enough spirit points to dance.  Her passion for THON comes from a childhood experience.  When she was in fifth grade, one of her best friends, Ben, died of leukemia.   “He was the sweetest and most caring person you would ever meet.  Since then, I have felt a strong desire to find a cure or help to find a cure for cancer.  What is more important then fighting a good fight for someone who would appreciate it so much!”

Weekley is a sophomore secondary education major with an option in social studies.  She is a graduate of Camp Hill High School.   This is her second year being involved with THON and she is very excited about being a dancer.  Weekley helped can and helped create a shower curtain to be displayed at the Women’s Show last year.  “I went to see our dancers at THON last year and it was just an amazing atmosphere.  I can’t wait to be a part of THON weekend.”

During THON weekend, more than 700 dancers and thousands of supporters come together at University Park in the hopes of one day finding a cure for pediatric cancer. Whether standing for 46 hours as a dancer, entertaining the crowd, taking care of the facility, or even sitting in the stands, every person at THON plays a small part in creating an amazing atmosphere of love, compassion, and understanding. This atmosphere inspires the students to     fundraise throughout the year and tells the families of The Four Diamonds Fund that they have the care and support they need. This collective effort, involving more than 15,000 students, has become one of Penn State's greatest and most unifying traditions.

Anyone interested in helping with the York THON Committee should contact Bradley or Clements.  THON meetings are held Tuesdays and Fridays at noon in room 112 or 113 of the Main Classroom Building at Penn State York.

There’s still time to donate.  Anyone interested in supporting the dancers from Penn State York can send checks made payable to:

Penn State Dance Marathon
c/o York Student Government Association
Penn State York
1031 Edgecomb Ave.
York, PA   17403

Please be sure to note Org. 170 in the memo line of the check.  Checks sent to the local campus will be credited to the local dancers and then added to the final total at University Park.    Donations can also be made online at THON.org.  Be sure to designate your donation for York and your donation will be counted toward the campus total.

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