As runners took off down Curtin Road Saturday morning, the unofficial start of the annual THON activities began. The THON 5k is unlike any other charitable race; where else can you find college students lining the streets in neon tutus and crazy colored outfits, waving, screaming, and high-fiving each runner as they pass? This alone would put any other college race to shame, but add the fact this all happened early on a Saturday morning, no other collegiate event could compare.
This amazing demonstration of support for THON shows Penn State’s true dedication to the battle against pediatric cancer. Unlike other races where the goal is individual improvement, this race wasn’t about the individual. It is to collectively support the families who battle cancer everyday.
Of the runners, former cross-country runner Zach Santner said the THON 5k “was a totally different experience for me compared to other races.”
“In other races I run to try and get my best time,” Santner said. “I ran the THON 5k to support all the kids with cancer and their families. When I got tired I thought of the kids and how hard it must be for them… The THON 5k was an amazing experience.”
Along with the runners, support was shown from the sidelines of the race. Hundreds of THON committee members lined the streets, decked out in crazy outfits while waving posters and banners. Despite the fact it was a cold October morning, these students cheered for every participant, no matter if they were running or walking.
“With the streets lined with THON committee members and supporters I felt so happy during the race,” Santner says. “They provided support and inspirational energy to all runners. They made the race so much fun.”
This event is so much more than a 5k race. It shows the community and the Four Diamonds families that Penn State students care about helping children with pediatric cancer.
Every stride was one step closer to finding a cure. FTK.
Photo by Shreel Parikh