Meet the four Penn State Harrisburg students dancing at THON

Collage of headshot photos of four Harrisburg THON dancers

Four Penn State Harrisburg students will be dancing at THON. Top row, l-r, Clara Baker and Chelsy-Sippora Funebe. Bottom row, l-r, Ethan Cordova and Maggie Scicchitano.

Credit: Sharon Siegfried

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. ­— Four Penn State Harrisburg students will join hundreds of other Penn State students to dance at THON, the annual dance marathon held to benefit children and families impacted by childhood cancer.

THON is the culmination of a year-long fundraising event to benefit Four Diamonds at the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania. This year’s event will take place Feb. 16-18 at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State.

THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, with more than 16,500 Penn State student volunteers who aim to provide emotional and financial support to Four Diamonds families, as well as to spread THON’s mission and raise awareness about childhood cancer. Since 1973, THON has raised over $200 million to support Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

This year, Penn State Harrisburg Benefiting THON has so far raised $15,000 — and that number is expected to grow as the weekend approaches. Student organization chair Mackenzie Marker, a kinesiology major, said the majority of donations were raised online, and the organization also held a number of events, such as a vendor fair, pie-a-professor fundraisers, and more. Donations can still be made on the Harrisburg organization’s donation page.

The organization draws students who are familiar with THON and excited to participate, as well as others who arrive at Penn State unfamiliar with the organization, Marker said. She discovered THON through a friend, and she wanted to find a way to give back.

“I went to THON last year, and it was really eye-opening and magical and inspiring to me,” she said.

In December, the organization selected four students — Clara Baker, Ethan Cordova, Chelsy-Sippora Funebe, and Maggie Scicchitano — to represent the Harrisburg campus as dancers during the 46-hour dance marathon. Dancers are selected through an application and interview process.

Meet this year’s Penn State Harrisburg THON dancers and learn why they work to support the cause.

Clara Baker

Baker is in her third year at Penn State Harrisburg studying life sciences, and said she is driven by Four Diamonds and its mission.

“It’s for kids to have a good childhood and have a bright future,” Baker said. “It’s something that’s bigger than me, and it really does change lives.”

Baker said she’s heard amazing things about THON weekend, and she’s extreme about her passions — so she wanted to be a dancer to do the most she could for THON families.

“I’m looking forward to the life-changing aspects of it,” she said. “I’ve heard it really does make an impact on you — when you’re in that environment with one common goal, it definitely will stay with you and motivate you for future moments in your life.”

Ethan Cordova

Cordova is a second-year mechanical engineering major. He’s been involved with THON for the duration of his time at Penn State Harrisburg, after his roommate introduced him to the organization and its work.

Cordova said he’s driven by THON’s cause and the ability to help others. He attended THON last year as a supporter and was inspired to see the dancers remain energetic throughout the 46-hour marathon. He’s looking forward to seeing THON organization members from across Pennsylvania connect and work together at the event.

“I’ve always wanted to make people smile, and this organization allows me to do just that,” Cordova said.

Chelsy-Sippora Funebe

Funebe is a fourth-year student studying life sciences, who has been involved with THON for two years. THON’s goal of raising money for childhood cancer and giving families a chance to have more time together motivates her, she said.

“Family is the most important thing, and I think THON really drives that home,” she said.

Funebe attended THON last year as a supporter and was moved to try to become a dancer herself. She said she was inspired by the amount of money raised and by students giving their all to the cause, and she wanted to be part of it.

“Everybody is working toward the same goal of giving families a chance, so it’s beautiful,” she said.

Maggie Scicchitano

Scicchitano is a third-year student majoring in biobehavioral health, who joined Penn State Harrisburg Benefiting THON in the fall of 2022. For her, THON is more than a passion; she said she hopes to one day be a physician assistant specializing in pediatric oncology and help research a cure for cancer.

“I am driven by being a part of something bigger and helping financially and emotionally support children and families affected by pediatric cancer,” Scicchitano said. “I believe that growing up is an amazing thing and we should each do whatever we can in our power to ensure kids experience a fun-filled childhood, regardless of their circumstances.”

She said she's looking forward to dancing with friends as they raise money for a common cause.

“I am excited to be surrounded by people who are just as passionate about THON as I am,” she said.