Congressman Shuster submitted the following remarks to the Congressional Record yesterday as the House moved to pass H.Res. 1112, "Congratulating the Pennsylvania State University IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON)"
A little over a week ago, I spent a very memorable and moving afternoon watching Penn State students taking part in THON, the annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. THON at Penn State is no small event. It remains the largest student-run philanthropy in the world which since 1977 has raised over $68 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Children’s Hospital to fight childhood cancer.
THON involves over 15,000 student volunteers from Penn State’s University Park campus and its nineteen commonwealth campuses. Over 700 dancers take part in THON’s marquee event: a 46 hour dance marathon at the Bryce Jordan Center. Thousands of other students join in as moralers, family and public relations, entertainment, donor relations, finance, communication, hospitality, logistics, technology, rules and regulations, and ‘OPP’erations team members. These students’ year-long efforts culminate in THON weekend - truly an amazing and uplifting sight to see.
All of the student dancers, volunteers and sponsors who participated in this year’s THON deserve recognition from Congress and the thanks of Americans everywhere for their work to help end the scourge of childhood cancer. Their hard work resulted in raising $7.83 million this year, breaking last year’s record of $7.5 million.
I am proud to say that my own daughter was among the hundreds of students who took part in THON 2010. Ali served on the Morale Committee “Jule Runnings” and helped lift the spirits of exhausted dancers, massage tired feet, and lead the hourly line-dance to keep everyone moving to stay motivated for their cause.
Penn State students are joined by hundreds of Four Diamonds Families from Penn State Children’s Hospital who look forward to THON all year round. Four Diamond Families often develop lifetime friendships with the Fraternities, Sororities, and organizations that “adopt” them and spend time with them throughout the year. At THON weekend you will find the kids running throughout the event, participating in talent shows, playing games with the dancers, getting piggyback rides and even starting water-pistol fights with unsuspecting volunteers. The culmination of the weekend is Family Hour – when families share the struggle in the fight against childhood cancer with everyone in attendance. This was a deeply emotionally moving hour that brought the struggle of childhood cancer into a personal light. Some of the stories had happy endings, some did not. But each story was an inspiration to keep fighting for the cure for childhood cancers. These children and families are why Penn State dances.
THON is a life changing event for anyone who attends or takes part in the event. And while Penn State students are hoping to change the lives of children affected by childhood cancer, more often than not it’s the students whose lives are changed by participating in THON. Love truly does “Belong Here.” We Are Penn State - For the Kids.