The Crimmel family’s journey with Penn State’s THON and their remarkable child, Shiloh, is a heartwarming example of the community that defines Penn State. VALLEY had a chance to interview them recently and gained insight on their special connection to THON.
Shiloh had the honor of being the “Kickoff Kid” at the annual THON Awareness Game, a game that’s dedicated to raising awareness for pediatric cancer and supporting the Four Diamonds Fund. At this year’s game, held on September 9th, Penn State saw a victory with a score of 63-7 against Delaware, making the day even more memorable for the Crimmel family.
When asked about their experience with THON and being the Kickoff Kid for the game, the Crimmel family was enthusiastic. “We love coming to Penn State, so every time we’re here, we’re super happy and super excited. It’s literally a happy place to be. It’s Happy Valley.”
Shiloh and her parents expressed their excitement, anticipating the opportunity to go on the field, meet Coach James Franklin, watch the game and, of course, see the beloved Nittany Lion mascot.
Growing Up with THON
The Crimmel family’s journey with the Four Diamonds Fund began in 2018 when Shiloh was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of blood cancer. They recalled, “The day after she was diagnosed, a Four Diamonds social worker came to our room. At that point, we didn’t even know what Four Diamonds was…” The social worker’s visit was a turning point for the Crimmel family. “She told us that everything was taken care of, and that was the first time when things started to look a little bit brighter.”
Their first encounter with THON occurred six months later, and it left a memorable impact on the Crimmel family. “The support that we have felt from Four Diamonds, THON, and the Penn State students just makes us feel so loved and welcome every time we come here. It’s just… I don’t know how to describe it,” Shiloh’s mom said.
When asked what THON means to their family, the Crimmel family explained, “When Shiloh was ill, we would bribe her with the Nittany Lion’s pride if she took her medicine. The Lionettes, who are her paired organization, would call and FaceTime her to support and encourage her. THON set us up with them.” The Lionettes have supported Shiloh’s journey every step of the way, even during the pandemic. The Crimmels added, “When we’re at THON, it’s like they’ve been there with us the whole time. So to us, it’s super special. We’re here for them now when they’ve been here for us.”
The Crimmel family’s message to those unfamiliar with THON and Four Diamonds is this: “We encourage everyone to visit thon.org, visit fourdiamonds.org and see how impactful these organizations are to families. It’s amazing.”
Shiloh and the Crimmel family’s story shows the incredible impact of THON on families battling pediatric cancer, a reminder that students at Penn State can create lasting hope and change.