During the first THON canning weekend, Penn State Harrisburg students raised a campus record of $11,094.
During the first THON canning weekend, Penn State Harrisburg students raised a campus record of $11,094.
Image: Penn State

THON weekend breaks college record

The theme for Penn State’s THON dance marathon, Inspire Tomorrow’s Miracles, is being put into action at Penn State Harrisburg, where fundraising is in swing and student volunteers have planned a full calendar of events to raise money and public awareness. Last year the campus raised more than $31,000. This year’s goal is $45,000.

See photos of Penn State Harrisburg THON activities.

THON is the largest student-run philanthropic initiative in the world, having raised more than $88 million during the past 40 years for the Four Diamonds Fund, an organization that helps families battling pediatric cancer.

One record was already broken in September. During the first of three canning weekends, during which volunteers collect money in tin cans, the college’s THON volunteers raised $11,094 – their highest total ever for a single weekend. THON students will continue their efforts in the Harrisburg and Hershey areas on the remaining University-wide canning dates, Oct. 19-21 and Nov. 9-11.

“I think we have a really good group of volunteers. I hope we can break our record and have an awesome year,” said Megan Bennett, a senior American studies student and Penn State Harrisburg THON fundraising chair.

In September, the college hosted a reception and advanced screening for the new, 60-minute documentary “Why We Dance: The Story of THON,” a film which explores the 46-hour dance marathon with more than 700 annual dancers and 15,000 student organizers. At the screening, the current Penn State Harrisburg THON chairs, alumni, and Four Diamond families, discussed their experiences. The film can be purchased from Penn State Public Broadcasting at wpsu.org/thondocumentary.

The college also celebrated two new THON events in mid-October, a carnival in conjunction with Homecoming and a 5k fun run/walk. The Carnival-4-A-Cure, with games, giveaways, and food, encouraged student involvement in THON. The fun run/walk expanded outreach to the local community.

"Penn State Harrisburg's first Carnival 4-a-Cure was a great success,” said Michelle Pellechia, a senior information sciences and technology major and THON public relations captain. “Being a part of THON, we are truly trying to get more people to join and understand what it is all about and events like these are a great way for everyone to get more involved with this amazing cause."

Two additional public events are scheduled before THON Weekend and others are being planned:

  • Bowling Night – Date: November 7, 2012, Location: ABC East Lanes in Harrisburg, Cost: $10/person for all you can bowl between 9:00 p.m. and midnight. No registration necessary.
  • Skate Night – Date: January 17, 2012, Location: Klick Lewis Arena in Annville, Cost: TBA, Time: 9:00 p.m.-midnight. No registration necessary.
  • Planning is underway for a THON dodge ball tournament, swim-a-thon, and glow party.

The year’s fundraising culminates with THON Weekend Feb. 15-17, during which the University-wide total is revealed. Last year, Penn State students raised $10,686,924.83 for the Four Diamonds Fund.