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A Weekend For the Kids

Posted: February 21, 2013

Courtney Norjen, a Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences major, reflects on dancing in THON and the great experiences that came with it this year.
Courtney (front center) rocks the Four Diamonds sign with her dance partner Danielle Hofheinz (immediate right) and their THON family, the Brobst family

Courtney (front center) rocks the Four Diamonds sign with her dance partner Danielle Hofheinz (immediate right) and their THON family, the Brobst family

Penn State’s THON is as unique as it is amazing—there is no other university in the world that has anything quite like it. When I came to State College as a freshman I had no idea what THON was, but several people told me that it was incredible so I decided to get involved. That was the best decision I’ve ever made. THON has greatly enriched my college experience, giving me the opportunity to be part of something much bigger than myself. It’s helped students like myself make a profound impact on so many deserving families. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Whether or not you are familiar with THON, after reading this I hope you are as inspired as I was to get involved. THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. This year, we raised a record-breaking $12,374,034.46 for the Four Diamonds Fund. Yes, that’s over TWELVE MILLION DOLLARS! In its history, THON has raised over $100,000,000 for The Four Diamonds Fund. The Four Diamonds Fund partners with Penn State Hershey’s Children’s Hospital to provide financial and emotional support to families who have children fighting pediatric cancer. Because of THON, Four Diamonds families never see a medical bill. This allows the families to focus on what is most important: getting the treatment that could save their son or daughter. Four Diamonds families are also paired with organizations at Penn State so we can provide them with the emotional support that they need to make it through such a difficult time. They become a part of our family; we are always there for them whenever they need us.           

Each year’s fundraising efforts culminate in a 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon. This year, as a dancer for Pre-Vet Club, I was one of 710 people selected to dance for the 46 hours. It was the most incredible weekend of my life. That might sound dramatic, but there are no words that can adequately describe what it is like to be on the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center THON weekend.

I had the chance to interact with many Four Diamonds families, and they were so grateful for what Penn State has done for them. While the families kept calling the dancers heroes, the real heroes are the children who fight pediatric cancer every day. After 46 hours awake and standing, I was tired and my legs hurt, but I loved every moment of my time dancing. When they started the ten-second countdown to when we could sit, I instantly burst into tears. I wasn’t crying because of the pain or because I could finally sit down, but because my dancing experience, a one-time opportunity, was almost over. When they revealed this year’s total, I cried even harder.

THON is about a college community coming together to achieve something seemingly impossible. THON is about curing pediatric cancer. THON is for the families. But most importantly, THON is FOR THE KIDS!

--Courtney