Wrapping Up the Weekend | THON 2017

Photo by Ann Li

The THON 2017 total of $10,045,478.44 was revealed, the dancers have gone to bed and OPP has begun the post-THON breakdown. In other words, THON 2017 is pretty much wrapped up.

Valley checked in with some important representatives from THON and Four Diamonds to find out how THON 2017 unfolded.

THON Executive Director Austin Sommerer says that the event went smoothly, with only a few minor issues that come with hosting a weekend-long event.

“What we accomplished this weekend is a direct result of the thousands of hours that THON committees and organizations have put in throughout the year…we’re so excited to show our hard work through the culmination of our efforts during THON weekend,” says Sam Sherlock, the THON public relations director.

THON’s 2017 theme was “Igniting Hope Within.” A message that Suzzane Graney thought was perfect for THON’s main goal, that one day there will be a cure for cancer.

“You don’t get to a lofty goal like that…without hope,” says Graney. “Collective efforts here continue to show us the sky is the limit about what can be accomplished and when we know that everybody is working so hard together, we have hope that that cure is going to happen.”

In 2016, the total amount THON raised dropped significantly, from $13,026,653.23 the previous year to $9,770,332.32.

But even as canning is phased out, the total amount raised spiked back up in 2017.

“We show that just because canning was being phased out, that does not mean that our efforts are dwindling or anything is going down,” says Sommerer. “The amount of support we had this year and the amount of volunteers we had participating this year was more than ever.”

Sommerer says that as canning disappears, THON encourages organizations to come up with creative fundraisers that fit their group.

Club cross country’s “Miles for Smiles” event is the “perfect example of an organization who took something that they love and brought THON into it, which is making for very successful alternative fundraisers,” says Sommerer.

As PR coordinator, Sherlock worked all year to spread THON’s mission far and wide. “We’re spreading our mission beyond State College, beyond Pennsylvania, and reaching people all across the country,” says Sherlock.

From scoring a performing group such as internationally known DNCE, it’s clear that awareness about THON is spreading nationally and internationally.

“We’re also growing in support from all over the country, we’re growing in awareness and were growing in the number of people who know about THON, our brand, and our mission.”

Growth is nothing new for THON. Charles Millard, one of the founders of Four Diamonds, reflected on the fortieth THON. He describes THON as inverted triangle, increasing with energy each year.

“To sit in my position as a cofounder…and see all of this grow around you, you just sort of sit back, and relax and let it go.”

It’s clear that with student efforts combined with growing international support, THON will only continue to expand in reach and support.

“I can’t say where it will go, I had no idea it would go where it is,” says Millard.