There are many different reasons why over 15,000 student volunteers participate in Penn State’s Dance Marathon (THON). Valley hit the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center to find out why some of this years volunteers chose to participate.
Many students cited the THON families or children as the reason that motivates them to be involved.
Alex Erdman, a senior and Donor and Alumni Relations captain, says that he dances for his THON family, the Lighnters. Austin Lightner has been cancer free for two year, but Erdman has remained close with the family and still finds motivation in them. Erdman said that being able to provide support in more ways than one is what keeps him driven. We go over to the families’ houses, we go to the kids’ birthday parties, and we babysit so that the parents can go out to dinner,” says Erdman. “I truly think that the emotional support is just as important as the financial support.”
“I THON for the future because I was always told that kids can do anything when they grow up, so I THON for these kids and their futures because I believe in their ability to succeed and make the world a better place,” says Pryia Sarma, a senior and Special Events captain.
Some students THON for the ones in their lives that have battled through the fight against cancer.
Kylie Kuhns, a freshman and Communications committee member, participates in THON for her sister, who died from leukemia when Kylie was 9 years old. “I know the struggle that the kids go through and I think THON really helps the kids, this event really lets them be kids for a weekend,” says Kuhns.
Matt Butler, a senior and Finance captain, said that he first felt a personal connection with THON because his dad beat cancer in 2009. “Coming to our first THON, he was amazed, especially as a Penn State alumni,” says Butler.
Some students have too many reasons to choose from.
“I THON for my THON family. I THON for the many THON families. I THON for my own family so they never have to go through something like this,” says Monique Remick, a senior and Dancer Relations captain. “The reason keeps changing over the years.”
Though there are many different, individual reasons why Penn State students participate in THON, they all have one in common and that’s FTK.