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Penn State’s Annual Dance Marathon Supports Childhood Cancer Treatment and Research

Courtesy The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon
Students raised $13.8 million for childhood cancer treatment and research in 2014, the largest amount to date.

Hundreds of students are spending this weekend dancing inside Penn State University’s Bryce Jordan Center, the culmination of a year-long, multi-million dollar fundraising effort.

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, THON for short, is an annual 46-hour dance marathon meant to give “kids and their families the opportunity to forget about their cancer diagnosis.”

Since 1977, students have raised $114 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Last year was their biggest year yet, raising $13.8 million. Funds raised go toward both research and off-setting the cost of care for un- and under-insured families.

THON 2015 executive director Megan Renaut said there are plenty of events and activities to keep the students engaged all weekend long, including a fashion show spotlighting Four Diamonds children and a pep rally with Penn State Athletes.

“(Students) stand at 6pm on Friday and they have to be standing and awake until 4pm on Sunday,” Renaut said. “They don’t have to be dancing the whole time, as long as they’re staying on their feet and active.”

Renaut said the best part of the whole record-setting dance marathon is the “family hour” near the end.

“It’s the time for everyone in the arena to take a step

back and remember why we’re doing this, and hear some stories from Four Diamonds families,” Renaut said. “I think that’s really impactful and no matter how tired they are, it keeps them going until the end. And of course at the end, it’s just exhilarating knowing that you’ve made it.”

And at the very end, they’ll announce how much money was raised, a number Renaut said they are keeping under wraps until 4pm on Sunday.