THON’s Collegiate Impact

Photo from THON

In 1973, the first-ever THON was a 30-hour dance marathon that raised $2,316 in the HUB Ballroom. In 2021, there are over 250 colleges and high schools that hold dance marathons with the goal of donating the money to their respective philanthropies. 

THON has not only changed the lives of Penn Staters, the kids and families but has ignited a revolution in fundraising for cancer research that has spread to universities and high schools, as well as their communities themselves, impacting the lives of people in more places than just State College.

The Indiana University Dance Marathon at Indiana University Bloomington is the second-largest student-run organization in the country, following THON itself. 

“IUDM has been the family that has always been there for me. These are truly some of the most amazing people for the most amazing cause,” Sarah Smith, Director of Corporate Relations for Indiana University Dance Marathon, explained. 

“Until we can get a cure, I don’t see any reason to not do what we’re doing,” Smith said. 

At the University of Kentucky, the DanceBlue marathon raised $2,000,190.20 in 2020 for the kids. 

Cancer doesn’t stop, so neither do we.

“Being in DanceBlue is not only the best thing I’ve ever done in college. It’s given me passion and purpose. I’ve been able to use my passion for marketing for something that is so much bigger than myself,” Meagan Wilkins, DanceBlue’s Marketing Chair, said. 

Wilkins also emphasized the importance of continuing to dance and adapting their marathon so their event can be Covid-safe.

“I’m doing this for kids who are facing the hardest things in their life, and their families are facing something that they never imagined they would face. Our motto this year has been ‘Cancer doesn’t stop so neither do we.’”

Regardless of the school or place, dancers, donors, volunteers and other community members across the country are unified by a single cause. Continuing to support the kids and families, as well as THON as an organization, can only continue the revolution.

The impact that THON has had on the lives it has touched will continue to grow and inspire others for many years to come. Even without an in-person event, dancers are finding ways to continue to fundraise for the cause.

Here are the top five fundraising dance marathons from 2020 and their events’ totals:

  1. Pennsylvania State University’s THON: $11,696,942.38
  2. Indiana University Bloomington’s IUDM: $2,905,188.23
  3. University of Iowa’s Big Event: $2,879,755.26
  4. University of Florida’s DMUF: $2,526,418.24
  5. University of Kentucky’s DanceBlue: $2,000,190.20


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