York Dancers Look Forward to Staying Awake For The Kids (FTK)!
Working out, breaking-in new sneakers, cutting caffeine and sugar, and just plain staying healthy are just a few things Penn State York students Angi Solle, 19, and Sam Noerpel, 19, are doing as they get ready to head to University Park to represent the campus in the 39th Annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, “Together Without Limits,” set for Feb. 18 – 20 at the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC). The two dancers were chosen to represent Penn State York based on a variety of criteria including spirit points they earned since September by doing a variety of activities to raise funds for THON. 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.
For York’s dancers, and members of the campus’ THON committee, the year has included a variety of fundraising efforts such as hosting a talent show called Paw Search, selling subs, hosting a basket bingo, 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 Stephanie Behrens, 21, of York, Pa., and Jennifer Lake, 19, of Wellsville, Pa., who danced at THON last year; the group has been very busy. Behrens and Lake have attended meetings at University Park to catch-up on all the THON rules and expectations and have been having weekly meetings with the campus THON Committee since just after THON last year. Their work has paid off and York’s THON total, which now tops $14,000 and is still growing, is the largest amount the campus has raised in its history.
In addition to raising money, through THON, the campus sponsors two families: the Hill family and the Hagens family. For the past five years, York sponsored Madison “Maddie” Hill. Hill, 13, of Dover, Pa., has been battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma since October 2004. She completed her treatments in February 2008 and celebrated three years out of treatment on Feb. 15. She is in remission and today is a happy healthy teenager. In addition to Hill, Penn State York is also sponsoring 3-year-old Ava Hagens, of York, Pa., who was diagnosed on July 24, 2009, with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). She is undergoing treatment and this will be her second trip to THON along with her parents Jessica and Greg. The Hill family, Maddie, Dawn, Scott, and Travis will also be attending THON.
THON, a year-round fundraising event benefits The Four Diamonds Fund, Conquering Childhood Cancer, at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital in Hershey, Pa. The year culminates in a no-sitting, no-sleeping, two-day dance marathon. Since 1973 the students of THON have raised more than $69 million and have helped thousands of children and families fight pediatric cancer. Last year the event raised more than $7.83 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.
Noerpel, of East Berlin, Pa., is a sophomore majoring in aerospace engineering and a 2009 graduate of Bermudian Springs High School. He began his work with THON in 2009 as a freshman at Penn State York.
“I became involved with THON because pediatric cancer is one of the most terrible things I think a family can go through and I want to do what I can to help fight it,” said Noerpel. “THON is a great way for me to join others who feel the same way I do.”
Handling the sleep depravation isn’t one of Noerpel’s concerns; he just wants to be sure he can make the THON families feel good even if he doesn’t feel 100 percent. Noerpel attended THON last year so his favorite day is Sunday when all the THON families gather, there are many activities, and the BJC is packed.
Solle, of York, Pa., is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and a 2009 graduate of Dallastown Area High School. She became involved in THON in February 2010 after THON weekend. Solle has never attended THON and considers dancing a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“Since I have never been to THON before I don’t know what to expect. I’ve heard so many good things about this experience and I cannot wait for every part of it,” Solle said. “I am so happy to be dancing for Penn State York and am very proud of all of our members this year. Everyone has worked so hard and our THON group includes some of the most passionate people I know,” she said. “I love my sleep but I know THON weekend I will be so excited that I will fight through my sleepiness.”
Solle was responsible for organizing canning weekends and she, Noerpel, and others spent many hours in the cold raising money for THON.
Noerpel and Solle are both anxious to spend time with York’s THON families and to experience THON with the York THON Committee and the thousands of others working to find a cure for pediatric cancer. Both dancers consider it an honor to be dancing at THON and representing the campus.
In addition to Noerpel and Solle, Savannah Smith, of Red Lion, Pa., is a Penn State York who is participating in THON as an independent dancer. Smith is a sophomore majoring in public relations and a 2009 graduate of Red Lion High School. Smith danced last year for the campus. She is part of a THON family and the event is very personal to her. She lost her brother Jed, just 12-years old, to leukemia on January 3, 2010, so for her, dancing at THON is an extraordinary way to remember her late brother.
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.
There’s still time to donate. The best way to be sure your donation is counted in time is to visit the campus or donate online www.thon.org. Be sure to use the dropdown box and designate your donation for York and your donation will count toward the campus total.
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 York, Org. 170 in the memo line of the check. Checks sent to the local campus as well as online donations will be credited to the local dancers and then added to the final total at University Park.