Five dancers and a busload of their supporters from the Penn State Berks community traveled to Penn State University Park campus to participate in THON during the weekend of Feb. 17-19. As a result of the 46-hour dance marathon and a year of fundraising efforts, Berks benefiting THON contributed $62,531.35, ranking third among Penn State campuses. THON raised a grand total of $10,045,478.44 million for the Four Diamonds Fund.
This year’s Berks student dancers included senior Anna Lau, and juniors Michael Aboulhouda, Amanda Alpuche, Marissa Catteau and Kailen Moyer.
When asked about the experience, Lau commented, "When you're on the floor, all you see is a massive wave of people who support the same cause as you do. We get emotionally, mentally and physically drained through the 46 hours, but I always kept in my mind that ‘I THON’ for the toothy grins, in hopes that one day pediatric cancer will be a distant memory for all.”
“THON is an experience that's indescribable,” added Alpuche. “To be able to come together with the families that we are helping, to laugh, cry and dance while supporting one another, was a feeling I will never forget. These are the moments that will stick with me forever.”
Among the supporters in attendance were Berks benefiting THON children Natalie Biancone and Jason Swope, along with their families. Biancone is 11-years-old and has been cancer-free for five years, and Swope, 15, has been cancer-free for over a decade. Sadly, the third Berks benefiting THON child, Delaney Brown, lost her battle with the disease in 2013. Although her family was not able to attend this year, they supported the dancers through text messages during the weekend.
According to Alexa Wojciechowski, one of two Berks benefiting THON advisers, the dancers prepared for months for THON. From the time they are selected in December, they followed a strict no-sugar, no-caffeine diet and worked out in a gym to establish stamina for the 46-hour experience. They also attend a dancer retreat at Penn State University Park in January to prepare them.
"I am in awe of the students from our campus who participated with the THON 2017 experience this weekend,” states Wojciechowski. “Their support both on and off the floor gave the dancers strength and stamina to stand for 46 hours. We couldn't do it without the support of our campus and community. We want to extend a huge ‘thank you’ to the countless individuals and groups who supported us throughout the year at our events and fundraisers."
Aubrey Edwards, a Berks benefiting THON adviser, added "Our fiver dancers did a wonderful job representing Penn State Berks. We are so proud of them and thankful for all of the students, families, and friends who supported them throughout the weekend. I am amazed how much time and effort these students put in throughout the year raising funds and awareness for pediatric cancer. I feel so fortunate to be a part of Berks benefiting THON as an adviser and to share this experience with the students."
Short for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, THON is the 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports families battling pediatric cancer.