It’s true — THON weekend wouldn’t be possible without its fearless dancers. This year, VALLEY had the pleasure of interviewing a few dancers about their journey with THON and what dancing means to them.
Kira Sarsfield, a fourth-year advertising major, is representing her sorority Alpha Delta Pi. Not only is she dancing for her cousin who had cancer a few years ago (now in remission and fully cleared), but she is also dancing for her four incredible families. To her, they “truly embody everything THON is and can be.”
When asked what dancing meant to her, Sarsfield says, “It feels very full circle for me because my Dad actually went to school here and he did Penn State THON when it was 48 hours.” She continues, “Really having him on the floor with me and having my cousin and our wonderful families here really just feels very full circle and a great end to my fourth year at Penn State.”
Sarsfield also shared that her favorite memory was doing the line dance with her personal family and the four diamonds families. She says, “There really is no other place where you can do that.”
When asked what she did to prepare to dance Sarsfield explains, “I cut out caffeine around three weeks ago which has been very hard because I drink coffee every single day.” She added, “honestly just getting enough sleep and eating right and taking care of myself this past month.”
Maggie Stuccio is a senior cybersecurity major who represented Delta Phi Epsilon. Stuccio explains that she dances for her “Big,” Ashely Murch. Stuccio learned about Murch’s battle with her cancer diagnosis as a freshman. Hearing this story from someone she admired and was so close with inspired her to dance. She shares, “She was so scared when she found out. She did not want to tell anyone and hid it from her parents.” Stuccio also reveals that Murch had danced the previous year, which was another reason she wanted to get on the floor and dance for THON.
To prepare for the weekend, she asked Murch for advice and preparation for dancing. “She gave me a whole one-on-one to-do list of everything I should do.”
Stuccio feels “It is a really big privilege to get to dance this weekend because not everyone gets the opportunity to do it.” She adds that just getting to see the behind-the-scenes of everything and all the effort that goes into putting the event together “makes [her] feel proud to do it.”
She concludes by saying, “This is the most unique experience of my life and I am just trying to take in every moment before the weekend passes.”
Albor is a fourth-year special education major. She dances for her sorority Kappa Alpha Theta, and explains that dancing has been a dream of hers since before she came to Penn State.
Having been involved in her high school’s mini-THON, she says “it was such a fun activity that we did — it gave back so much in high school. I decided to look into schools that had THON and that was the one thing that stood out about Penn State compared to all of the schools I applied to. It’s such an amazing thing that really gave back to the community.”
She continues, “It was also a great way to meet new people and new friends. We come from all different backgrounds, but come together for one amazing thing.”
To prepare for THON weekend, she says that she made sure to stretch everyday for at least 20 to 30 minutes, and that she wanted to fix her eating habits to make sure she was eating three balanced meals a day. She also reveales that she cut out sugar and caffeine two weeks prior to THON weekend. Her overall goal was to make herself healthier.
Albor’s favorite memory was walking through the human tunnel. She shares that the entire time she had the biggest smile on her face.
The last dancer VALLEY spoke with is Summer Ballou, a senior biobehavioral health major dancing for Pillar. Ballou shares that being able to dance was meaningful to her because she was able to honor her organization and their efforts throughout the year. She shares, “it’s a great privilege being able to represent the entire organization with the rest of our dancers and of course our families.”
To prepare, Ballou says she tried to shift her mindset away from being worried about her physical preparedness and focusing more on being mentally strong. She also took advice from her friends who had danced in previous years.
Her favorite memories were the trips she made to the athletic training room with her friends and the people she met along the way.
VALLEY thanks all dancers for their hard work and dedication at this years THON!