WYOMISSING, Pa. — Penn State Berks is showing support for the five student dancers who are representing the college at THON, the dance marathon to benefit families battling pediatric cancer, with “Dancer Week” from Feb. 14 to 17. The week will culminate with a dancer send-off on Thursday, Feb. 17, and a check presented to the student organization by the Penn State Berks Alumni Society.
From Friday, Feb. 18, to Sunday, Feb. 20, Penn State students from every campus will gather at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State University Park for THON, the 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon to benefit Four Diamonds, which supports families battling pediatric cancer.
This year’s dancers from Berks include senior elementary and early childhood education majors Leeana Gretsky and Kaitlin Wagner, senior rehabilitation and human services major Olivia Ahr, senior kinesiology major Josue Garcia-Bonilla, and sophomore kinesiology major Arizona Shreck. First-year student Sunni Rousnee will travel with the dancers as an alternate.
For Ahr, a returning dancer, THON is a family affair. “I remember when my older brother and cousins attended Penn State and were involved in THON. My dad would set-up the computer in the living room and we would all gather (around) to watch the live-streamed event. I couldn’t believe how many people gathered inside the BJC, all coming together to support one cause. I could not wait until I was a Penn Stater, because I knew I wanted to follow in my brother’s and cousins' footsteps and be a part of an amazing organization!”
Gretsky, a member of THON for four years, comments, “I am grateful for Penn State Berks Benefiting THON for giving me the opportunity to dance in my senior year of college. I am dancing for all the amazing kids I have met throughout my time in THON, and for those who left us too soon, but whose smiles and energy sparked an eternal light in the world.”
When asked why she dances for THON, Wagner commented, “Our adopted Four Diamonds families are a source of light for me. I THON for all the children and families impacted by pediatric cancer. For the warriors: I THON in hopes that one day we find a cure. For the survivors: I THON as a supporter through all the triumphs and hardships. For the angels: I THON in their memory; they will never be forgotten in our mission to find a cure.”
Schreck stated that she is dancing in the hopes of making a difference. “The hope that one day childhood cancer will be cured is why I THON. I have learned that it takes a village to go through anything in life. I want to be a part of the THON village to provide families with even a glimpse of hope when they need it most.”
Garcia-Bonilla summed up the dancers’ feelings, stating, “I THON for the kids and their families so they do not have to go through this battle alone.”
The following are a list of activities that will be held during Dancer Week.
Monday, Feb. 14, 7–9 p.m., Tully’s Dining Center, Perkins Student Center
Students, faculty, staff and members of the community are invited to Berks Benefiting THON Karaoke Night. This event is free and open to the public.
Dancer Dessert Day
Wednesday, Feb. 16, Tully’s Dining Center, Perkins Student Center
Tully’s Dining Center will have a display featuring the favorite desserts of Berks THON dancers.
Thursday, Feb. 17, 12:15–1:15 p.m., Lion’s Den, Perkins Student Center
The Penn State Berks community will come together to support Berks Benefiting THON dancers–and the student organization members who travel with them–during this pep rally. This event is free and open to the public. In addition, the Penn State Berks Alumni Society will present a check to Berks Benefitting THON.
Despite THON 2021 being a virtual event, the grand total raised was more than $10.6 million. Penn State Berks raised $36,359, earning second place among the Commonwealth Campuses for THON fundraising.
For more information or to make a donation, visit sites.psu.edu/berksbenefittingthon77.
In 1977, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, known as THON, established its relationship with the Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Four Diamonds directly assists the families at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, while funding research in pursuit of a cure. To date, THON has contributed more than $190 million to support children and their families fighting pediatric cancer. Every year, more than 16,000 student volunteers devote their time and effort to raise money through fundraising events. The hard work of each and every volunteer culminates every February during THON weekend for a 46-hour dance marathon celebration in the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park.
Berks Benefiting THON, a Penn State Berks student organization, works collaboratively with THON at Penn State University Park to raise funds and spread awareness of pediatric cancer. The student organization holds fundraisers throughout the year, including a 5K run/walk, a polar plunge, and an Inspire the Night Dinner, just to name a few.