THON 2020 vs THON 2021

Photo by Zachary Canimore

Despite everything going on in the world, THON 2021 was truly a success. Not only was THON able to raise $10.6 million for the Four Diamonds Foundation and pediatric cancer, but students worked around the clock to make sure that the event was engaging, emotional and life changing all in a completely virtual setting. While many traditions were kept, despite THON 2021 being completely virtual due to COVID-19, new segments were implemented throughout the weekend.

VALLEY took a closer look and examined the differences and similarities between THON 2020 and THON 2021. Here is what we found:

Photo by Nolan P Marett

While THON 2020 took place in the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC), THON 2021 was completely virtual. This year, dancers did not have the typical atmosphere of the BJC to rely on to help them make it through the 46 hours, but friends and family were still able to show their support and cheer on their favorite dancers.

In a typical THON year, dancers are required to dance for all 46 hours. However, this year was slightly different. Because dancers were dancing from their place of residence and there was no medical team on sight for each dancer, dancers were encouraged to rest between the hours of 12a.m.-6a.m. While some dancers took advantage of the rest time, others decided to power through and make the most of the experience!

Dancers were still allowed to have visitors, provided that COVID-19 guidelines were followed, and even were able to receive dancer mail like in years past.

Line Dance
Photo by Nolan P Marett

A highlight of THON for many is the line dance and this year was no different! Dancer Relations has always been in charge of getting the crowd and dancers reenergized and this year their job was more important than ever. Although the Dancers Relations Committee was not together on the BJC stage this year, we still got to see them perform on Zoom/the livestream!

In years past, line dance lyrics included memorable events that have happened throughout the year and this year was no different.

While the THON 2020 line dance lyrics reflected the more light-hearted times of 2019—including Penn States claim to fame as a basketball school—the THON 2021 line dance song mentioned plenty of what happened during the wild year of 2020— “Zoom takes over campus classes,” “Black Lives Matter stories shared” and “sending love to Beirut.”

Pep Rally
Photo by Nolan P Marett

Everyone’s favorite event of the weekend was virtual this year, but nevertheless Penn State pride was still displayed.

Last year, teams such as men’s swim and dive, field hockey, women’s hockey, football and men’s gymnastics showed off its best dance moves and all competed for the chance to be crowned the “Pep Rally Champion.”

This year; however, there was no champion. Teams still showed off dance moves in pre-recorded and COVID-19 friendly routines and teams who were unable to partake in choreographing dance routines gave shout-outs in between the event. Also new this year, Four Diamonds children and families introduced each sports team over the livestream instead of in-person. Additionally, this new virtual format allowed for Zoom rooms with alumni and even special guest appearances.

Final Four
Photo from @pennstatethon on Instagram

Final four is always one of the most emotional parts of THON and despite the event being completely virtual, that statement still remains true. Final four consists of Family Hour, a performance by GoGo Gadjet and the final total reveal. All of these events took place virtually this year, with the exception of the final total which was revealed live from the BJC.

In addition, the Final Four consists of a look at the last four line dances. Usually, former Dancer Relations captains would make their way to the BJC stage to perform their respective THON line dance. However, this year they kept the tradition alive through pre-recorded video clips.

In addition to the many THON traditions outlined above, students went above and beyond to provide enough content for all 46 hours. Students conducted interviews that ran throughout the night and committees performed skits that were shown in between each event. Each skit was related to their respective committees and served a purpose such as reminding dancers to stay hydrated and eat well throughout the weekend.

Although this year was filled with many challenges, Penn State students showed that they will stop at nothing until there is a cure for pediatric cancer.

What did you think about THON 2021? Tweet us @VALLEYmag and let us know!


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