Bringing it Back to You and Me

Photo by Mitchell Valentin

Besides football season, there are few things that students from all walks of life will rally behind at Penn State and THON is at the top of that list. This past weekend 708 dancers stood in the Bryce Jordan Center for 46 hours in solidarity with children fighting cancer. The only story that mattered this past weekend are the families who know more suffering than anyone should and the dancers who support them, yet people continually try to draw attention away from this.

The Line Dance is a beloved tradition that marks the passing of time throughout the weekend and what makes it into the five minute dance is highly anticipated. Dancer Relations captains leave campus and lock themselves into a room to come up with the perfect mix of meaningful and relevant lyrics that will be remembered for at least five years. This year the captain committee focused on having a message that would unify the crowd and have a deeper meaning, especially when it came to the chorus. One line that exemplifies the unity they aimed to convey is, “For this family we empower.” Here are some members of our family that we work to continually empower:

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Sisters Sydney, Clara and Scarlett Shepps got to show off their dance moves on stage, smiling the entire time allowing them to forget how cancer has affected their family and just be kids. The younger two wore tutus and asked to be lifted onto a committee member’s shoulders during Pep Rally so they could see the action. The girls have profoundly impacted the lives countless volunteers and reminded everyone they encountered why we sacrifice sleep and sitting for almost full two days.

Mike Palm is senior at Penn State, a Communications captain and Dancer for THON 2019 and a childhood cancer survivor. Palm continually brings joy and light to those around him which is easily seen by everyone he meets. He, along with his parents and org members, told his story to a silent BJC as they all waited for the moment they could erupt in applause for a truly inspirational human.

Nick Vicidomini is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, a manager for the basketball team and a Dancer Relations Committee member. As a Four Diamonds child he has spoken at many THON events, including Dancer Relations Color Wars Kick Off in which he had those in attendance stand if they themselves had cancer or have been affected by cancer in any way. In order to cover his bases and make everyone around him feel included he ended this segment of his speech by saying, “If you are still sitting, my name is Nick, we are friends now so you can stand as well.”

In a world where it is all too easy to focus on negativity, it is important to pay attention to the light that is found in smiles, laughs, tears and hugs in the BJC. Little moments of unadulterated joy are what make the weekend so special. The Line Dance lyric “bring it back to you and me,” perfectly reminds us that the only stories worth sharing are those of positivity, joy and the kids we all do this for.


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