Penn State's Dickinson School of Law has been a THON organization since 2005, but this is the first year the school’s team has qualified to field dancers. That was accomplished by last year’s THON campaign team which raised $10,266 contributing to the more than $12 million donated to THON last year. This year, the law school raised $12,729.39 to contribute to the record-breaking overall total of $13,343,517.33. Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, commonly known as THON, is a yearlong fundraising and awareness campaign for the fight against pediatric cancer. Engaging more than 15,000 students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. It is the oldest and longest dance marathon in the country, having raised over $114 million dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital since THON started. Dru Miller '15, one of the law school's dancers, said engaging with the kids was the best part of the weekend.
"A THON child wanted to play a game that I was playing with my moraler and then he quickly became attached to me," said Miller. "This led to him going up on my shoulders to dance to Sweet Caroline, to engage in some squirt gun fights, and tons of other fun events. He was having a blast and made my THON experience one I will never forget."
Carrie Babiasz '14 was Miller's partner for the 46-hour that began on Friday, February 21 at 6 p.m. and ended on Sunday, February 23 at 4 p.m. She said that fundraising has been a team effort and law students, faculty, and staff have been very generous. Babiasz also attended Penn State as an undergrad and became involved with THON early on as did this year's co-chair Megan Janowiak '14 who danced in THON as an undergrad. "I am convinced that is impossible to experience THON weekend and witness a maximum capacity BJC full of students, not thinking of themselves, but coming together 'For The Kids' without wanting to get involved somehow. It’s infectious and I think that has stuck with me and the rest of the group ...Though some of us are about to finish law school, there is no graduating from THON," Babiasz said.
Babiasz said meeting a cancer survivor was one of the inspiring parts of the weekend.
“There was one moment me, Dru, and some other dancers were standing around a puzzle table and were greeted by a pediatric cancer survivor who told us his story,” said Babiasz. “Before he left, he thanked us for what we were doing and we thanked him for inspiring us. THON was the best, most emotional, and amazing weekend I have ever experienced.”
Babiasz and the rest of the team which includes Janowiak, Miller, Marcy McLaughlin, Jeff Gdovin, Katie Rimpfel, and Matthew McDonald and first year students Lauren Holzer and Jacqueline Schweichler have been raising funds since starting at the Law School through events such as Mr. Dickinson, canning trips, and the THONvelope partnership with PDP. Contributions can be made directly to the Dickinson For The Kids Team at http://giveto.psu.edu/THON-Dickinson. You can also connect with the team via their Facebook page.