With the thrill of THON weekend over and gone until the excitement builds for next year, spectators outside of Penn State are left with a lot of unanswered questions. Not only is it an incredible and indescribable event, but it has so many layers that can confuse those who don’t participate.
If you are interested in learning more about THON, or have someone who is looking to understand a little more about the amazing event, here is a cheat sheet. Hopefully, these will cover all your THON related questions.
In short, THON is a year-long effort to fundraise in pursuit of a cure for childhood cancer. During the weekend of THON, around 600 student volunteers are chosen to dance in the no-sitting, no-sleeping 46-hour dance marathon. The donations are used for medical bills, research and family support of children and families impacted by childhood cancer. Since the beginning of THON, no supported family has had to pay a medical bill.
The BJC, or the Bryce Jordan Center, is the home to THON. It doubles as Penn State’s basketball arena.
This is a phrase used by many fundraisers around the country, but overly stressed at Penn State’s THON. FTK stands for “For the Kids”, which we use at short-hand to express our overall mission, which is to make sure no child ever has to suffer from pediatric cancer.
Orgs are groups of students who participate in THON. This could a sorority or fraternity, a club, a sports team or even a special interest group formed specifically to raise money for THON. All of these students work together to achieve the total at the end and the top fundraising organizations are given recognition at the end of the weekend.
CMs, or committee members, are student volunteers that dedicate their year to helping facilitate the weekend. There are fourteen committees, communications, dancer relations, rules and regulations and entertainment to name a few. There truly is a committee for everyone. Each committee has a different purpose and responsibility throughout the weekend. These groups are also run by students, referred to as captains, and in total there are about 16,500 student volunteers.
For more information on the duties of each committee follow this link: https://thon.org/2021/03/02/meet-the-16-thon-committees-2021/
The line dance is a collection of dances, stretches, current events and THON history that is performed once to twice an hour throughout the 46 hours of THON. Each year the Line dance is a surprise and the whole student body gets to learn it throughout the weekend. It keeps the dancers stretched and the crowd excited.
Check out this years Line Dance:
Four Diamonds is the sole beneficiary of THON. They assist families of children with pediatric cancer through treatment research, therapy and many other support channels. Their families are paired with organizations at Penn State who encourage the families, participate with them throughout the weekend and try to help bring light to their cancer treatments.
Final Four is the final four hours of the weekend that dancers have to stand. In these hours, spectators, volunteers and dancers listen to Four Diamonds family stories, jam out to music, perform years past Line Dances and reflect on those who have passed away from cancer since the beginning of THON in 1973.
The Final Reveal
This is the one of the most special parts of the weekend and it is when the total of all of the fundraising efforts is announced. It is always exciting to see if we are going to set a new fundraising record. In 2022, the THON total was $13,756,374.50, a personal record for Penn State. In the 50 years of THON, Penn State has raised over $190 million FTK!
There are so many unique aspects to THON that can not be put into words, so as an avid THON fan, my biggest advice is to get involved. There are so many ways to participate and you will not regret a second.
Even as a spectator, you can enjoy the magic of the weekend. We stand FTK and we dance in hopes of dancing in celebration of a cure. It is life changing to be a part of such an incredible school and organization.