Penn State celebrated “100 Days til’ THON” on Wednesday, Nov. 10! Penn State’s dance marathon, better known as THON, is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Every year, captains, committee members and volunteers gather together in the HUB to celebrate their fundraising efforts and get excited by counting down to the best weekend of the year.
This year, the HUB was decked out in orange and pink decor, from streamers and balloons to bright signs displaying this year’s 100 Days’ theme: “Growth is on the Horizon.”
Emily Laird, a fourth-year student majoring in Spanish and HDFS, is this year’s Special Events 100 Days captain. Laird explained how she came up with the theme.
“To me, horizon is a word that symbolizes hope. I was trying to think of something that represented a journey to THON weekend. ‘Growth’ also symbolizes the changes that this community is going through, from the virtual elements to becoming more inclusive as a whole.”
“100 Days” was filled with fun events for spectators to partake in, including such highlights as THON’s Best Dance Crew Competition, Hair Donation and the Dream Forward Total Reveal.
THON raised an incredible $1,055,836.46 through their third-annual Dream Forward Campaign — This 16-day fundraising initiative had an original goal of $600,000!
In keeping with the ‘dance marathon’ tradition, students at the celebration danced to a silent disco and watched the Lionettes perform. Couldn’t make it in person? THON ran a livestream through 46Live so the celebration could be viewed virtually as well.
“The 100 Days’ celebration has always been one of my favorite pre-THON events,” explains Laird, who has been working hard to plan this event since May 2021. “I was honestly just so blown away by how many people came to the HUB to celebrate!” she says.
The event concluded with the iconic 100 Days photo on the HUB lawn. The word this year was “HOME,” and each letter was formed entirely by people standing together, wearing their white 100 Days shirts.
When asked how she picked this word, Laird replied: “I was just thinking of the THON community being a home for a lot of people at Penn State and being a place for friendship and connection. THON is more than just a weekend in the BJC.”
With last year’s THON weekend being held virtually due to the pandemic, the THON community was thrilled to recently announce that THON 2022 will be held inside at the Bryce Jordan Center on Feb. 18-20.
“Now this year’s 100 Days word has turned into a deeper meaning of returning ‘home’ to having an in-person THON, which is really amazing!” Laird says.
THON truly is a yearlong effort, and Special Events captains like Laird are just some of the incredible people who put so much effort into making it all happen.
“Being a Special Events captain involves a lot of delegating and meeting with other captains to plan these events,” says Laird.
Laird worked with the THON Entertainment committees to help plan the different games and performances at the HUB, as well as with Family Relations captains to plan events for kids at the hospital.
“It was really nice because everyone was super helpful but very supportive of letting me plan the overall vision of 100 Days.”
Until the day we can dance in celebration of a cure, THON will continue to “Spark Endless Light,” as is the theme for THON 2022.