Stories Behind Why We THON

Photo by Jonathan Zartman

With THON only a few short days away, it’s important to be reminded why we THON and the true meaning behind the 46-hour dance marathon. VALLEY met up with Brady Lucas and Michael Palm–two childhood cancer survivors and two incredible students who are passionate and dedicated to finding a cure. When we hear their moving stories, we easily remember why we THON–For The Kids™.

Kicking Cancer’s Butt

Diagnosed with leukemia at only the age of eight, Brady soon became a patient at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and received support from the Four Diamonds. His fight against cancer was nothing close to easy, but he and his family were grateful to have the support of the Four Diamonds behind them. In 2008, Brady was able to witness his first THON and came back in 2012, knowing he needed to be a part of the student-run philanthropy that helped save his own life.

The Drive To Help Others

Giving back and reciprocating the generosity he and his family felt was and still is a must for him. Brady began giving back when he and his dad co-founded a golf tournament for the Four Diamonds. To this day, they have raised over $250,000 for the cause. The desire to give back did not stop there. As soon as he arrived at Penn State in 2014 as a student, he immediately got involved in THON. He started as a dancer relations committee member, was able to dance at THON in 2016, became a dancer relations captain in 2017 and this year took on the role of being the Special Events Director.

When asked his main motivation for consistently being involved in THON, his reply was clear–he wanted to make a tangible impact on the world. Being a THON child, Brady saw first-hand where the money raised during the 46-hour dance marathon went and it is now propelling him to do more for the children that are unable to.

Cancer Who?

In 2003, a simple doctor’s appointment about a sore throat led Michael Palm and his family to Hershey Medical Center. Diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of six, Michael and his family were unsure of what the future held and how bills were going to be paid. Michael and his family soon learned of the efforts of THON and their minds were quickly eased.

“15 years later and the Four Diamonds still cover my yearly checkups and THON is still a huge part of my life,” Michael says.

Coming to Penn State as a student was not even a question in Michael’s mind when he had to pick a school to attend.

“I wanted to give back and help the organization that had helped me so much throughout my treatments,” says Michael. He knew right away he wanted to help make kids feel like kids again and not patients. He immediately became involved in THON by being on a committee his freshman year. The first year gave him such an incredible experience, he knew he had to be a part of another committee the following year. This year he worked his way up to becoming a Communications Captain, inspired by his captain from the previous year.

Coming Together For One Cause

Who was his captain you may ask? Brady Lucas! “Brady is the Special Events Director this year and I am grateful to have him here for advice and guidance,” says Michael. Brady inspired him to do more and through that, a friendship was formed and a lifelong connection was made.

Both Brady and Michael strive to give back each and every day and to help kids that are in the same positions they were in not too long ago. Their selflessness and desire to do more and more each day, gives us all hope that one day we will find a cure.



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