It’s FTK all year for Penn State students. Just about any day of the year, you can find a THON-related activity taking place. While many will gather on February 21–23 at the Bryce Jordan Center for the grand celebration, THON organizations, committee members and captains fundraise non-stop throughout the year.
The Special Events (SE) Committee organizes a plethora of events throughout the year to raise awareness and funds for the cause. On January 23, 2020, the SE Committee put together the annual THON showcase.
The showcase is a collaboration of THON volunteers who show up to present their unique talents, all while raising money for the cause in the process. The top three talents have the opportunity to perform at THON 2020, along with other prizes contestants can win. There was also a raffle given to two winners by the sponsor of the showcase, First National Bank. Additionally, eight random audience members were selected to win $250 to be credited to their own THON organizations.
This year, 14 acts performed at the showcase — from an original song by Theta Delta Chi’s Sam Black and Nick Ardnt to a high-energy hip hop dance routine performed by Urban Dance Troupe, the showcase was filled with electric performances.
The panel of judges that chose the top three contestants included Connor Pardoe, President of Penn State Performing Arts Council; Julia Greco, Executive Director of Penn State Homecoming; Linda Hildebrand, Dance Professor at the Penn State School of Theatre; Regina Duesler, Executive Director of Penn State THON; and representatives from First National Bank.
Before the top three winners were announced, they went through a Q&A session run by this year’s showcase captain, Emily Lancia. The questions were all THON-related, and the performers gave heartwarming answers. When asked which of the Four Diamonds are most important to them, members representing Eclipse shared that strength is the most important to them.
“You can’t get through life without strength,” Keiona Nesbitt of Eclipse said.
Along with the Q&A, Isabella Messina, a freshman at Penn State, gave a speech about her battle with cancer. Isabella is a three-time cancer survivor who has been greatly impacted by the work of THON and the Four Diamonds Foundation.
Throughout the speech, Isabella often thanked Four Diamonds for its role in her battle.
“We never saw a medical bill,” Isabella said. She continued her speech talking about her experience and how Four Diamonds made her feel comfortable throughout extended periods in the hospital.
Eclipse was announced as the winner of the THON 2020 showcase. The Society of Women Engineers and FOTO placed in the top three and will also have the opportunity to perform at THON.
Jack Maloney, Daniel Tracht and Keiona Nesbitt of Eclipse, sang a mash-up of songs as a trio. The songs included “Price Tag,” “Fireworks,” “Superbass” and more.
Hailey Burbage, the winner of the THON 2019 showcase, performed a lyrical solo to the song “Medicine” as a representative of the Society of Women Engineers. Last year, she participant in the showcase representing a commonwealth campus, but this year Hailey returned and represented the Society of Women Engineers, earning another opportunity to dance in front of the crowd at THON.
Jeremey Fratoni and Makenna Mink of FOTO sang a duet mash-up of “Shallow” and “Someone You Loved.” The audience burst into applause when Makenna hit the high notes perfectly during Shallow.
Eclipse member and showcase winner Daniel Tracht, a sophomore musical theatre major, told VALLEY why he participates in THON.
“I THON because everyone knows someone affected by cancer, and personally, one of my best family friends from home was diagnosed with Leukemia her sixth grade year. I knew I wanted to be a part of THON the second I got into Penn State. I loved being involved last year, and I’m excited to be a part of three more.“
The THON showcase is not only a showcase of talent, but a showcase of the passion Penn State students have for the Penn State Dance Marathon. Many PSU students love what THON stands for, thus devoting time and energy to different organizations that raise awareness and money for the case.
While the 2020 showcase winners will be excited to perform in front of their peers at THON, they are undoubtedly doing it FTK.