In case you didn’t know, I went to Penn State and loved every damn second of it. That was sarcasm for any who didn’t grasp onto it…the going to Penn State part, not the loving every minute part. I seriously loved that school…I still love that school. I consider myself very lucky to have gone to a school as great as Penn State, even though I’ll be paying for it for the rest of my life in loans. It was still worth it to me.
I participated in this little thing called THON during my four years at the greatest school in the country. Again, I’m sure you had no idea I was apart of THON…sarcasm strikes again. Although there may be some of you reading this wondering what THON exactly is. Let me give you the short version: THON is the most amazing, magical thing in this world and something I am so passionate about. Okay, not exactly helpful, but true. Very true.
THON, which is short for Penn State Dance Marathon, is a 46 hour no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon during the third weekend in February where students are on their feet celebrating life, and joining in the fight against pediatric cancer. It is the culmination of the hard work students (and students alone) have done all year, and the proceeds benefit the Four Diamonds Fund at the Hershey Medical Center. And like I said, it’s magic.
Over 15,000 student volunteers participate in this amazing event, and just a little over 700 of those student volunteers are “dancers”. When you’re a dancer, this simply means that you are on the floor the entire 46 hours. You don’t leave, you don’t sit, you don’t sleep, and you represent your organization in the greatest way possible. It is an honor to be chosen to dance.
I was a dancer. And it was the most amazing experience of my entire life.
I cannot put into words the way that specific THON weekend felt. Each year before that was amazing and magical, but nothing came close to this one. I was exhausted, my legs were swollen, and all I wanted to do was cuddle in my bed with some pizza and Netflix, but there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to go back to that weekend. It was easily the highlight of my senior year.
It’s been three years since my last THON as a student, and three years since I danced. And guess what, I still haven’t let go. I get a lot of shit for that, mostly by people who were never involved in THON or didn’t go to Penn State. It’s always a “Taylor, let go already, you aren’t in college anymore.” And I try so hard to explain how it isn’t something I can just pretend never happened, or stop supporting. I will always support THON, and my organization, and my friends.
Because of THON, I made friends that shortly became family to me. These are people that I had the opportunity to share the greatest year of my life with. They are people who I rarely get to see anymore, but when I do see them it’s as if no time has passed at all. I am so fortunate that being involved in THON brought me to these amazing individuals.
THON opened my eyes to a lot. It showed me that sweating the small stuff isn’t worth it. It showed me that life is so precious. I have heard stories of children losing their fight to pediatric cancer, a disease that me and thousands of other students work so hard in finding a cure for. During my time as a student, I had the chance to get very close to two of the most amazing kids I have ever met. They had cancer, and they kicked cancers ass. Both of them. And now? They are two happy and healthy KIDS doing what KIDS should do.
Kids shouldn’t have to get spinal taps. Kids shouldn’t have to go through chemo and radiation. Kids shouldn’t have to lose their hair. Kids shouldn’t have to go through cancer.
That is why I THON. That is why I will never stop being so passionate about THON. Just because I graduated, doesn’t mean I stop fighting and caring. I donate every single year, I help my organization with fundraisers, I keep in contact with everyone I met because of THON, and when I can, I will attend every damn THON weekend that I can.
So next time you see my entire Facebook feed flooded with posts about THON, don’t get annoyed. Instead, click the link I’m sharing and donate. You’d be surprised how far a small donation can go. For a minute just think of these children. They are the reasons we do this.
For the Kids. Always.