This time of year at Penn State, there are bake sales and tons of other fundraising events for THON around every corner. While raising money for THON and THON children are of course of immense importance, students also recognize that the Penn State community must not forget the THON children who are no longer with us.
Thursday night, a very enthusiastic crowd piled into the Forum Building for the Second Annual Love For Lexi Cabaret, a show put together by the Penn State Singing Lions.
The Love For Lexi Foundation was formed by the family of Alexia Barnett, the Singing Lions THON child who passed away on August 20th, 2011 at age six due to Neuroblastoma. Barnett’s death was fairly sudden, and the student singing ensemble started thinking up ways of honoring her immediately after she passed. “We thought, why not put our talents to work and use them to benefit Lexi’s family?” says Alex Gallego, a junior and THON chair of the Singing Lions. During intermission, Gallego filmed a video of the audience holding up the Four Diamonds sign and cheering to the family of Barnett who could not make it to the concert due to a last minute circumstance.
The concert featured members of the group singing a variety of songs, everywhere from Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Callait, to classic Disney songs like Part of Your World form The Little Mermaid. Perhaps the most eccentric performance was Julie Direso’s rendition of My Party Dress by Kerrigan and Lowdermilk. Direso entered onto the stage sporting a silver sequin top paired with a big hot pink tutu. Not surprisingly, the crowd absolutely loved Direso’s
energetic, expressive and overall hilarious performance. She definitely received the most laughs (and quite possibly the longest and loudest applause) out of everyone.
Erica Friel, a senior and former THON chair of the Student Red Cross Club, sat and enjoyed the show with a big blue sparkly bow in her lap. The Singing Lions were selling bows outside of the room to benefit the Love For Lexi Foundation, and to give audience members something tangible to take home as a reminder of the beloved THON child. “I try to attend every Four Diamonds event, especially those in memory of a THON child,” says Friel. “I also just love the music.”
Perhaps one of the most emotional moments for the audience was when a video made by the Singing Lions was shown before the concert started. The video included pictures of Barnett with family members and the Penn State club, along with short video messages from members of the club. One of the members spoke to Lexi about what this concert was really about: “All of these people are here for you, every song we’re singing is for you.” Another spoke of Lexi’s impact on the people who surrounded her: “You’ve affected so many lives, and this is our way of giving back to you.”
Photo by Fuli Wang