The Importance of the Dancer’s Stand: An Inside Look At 46 Hours
UNIVERSITY Pa. — THON weekend is the biggest weekend all year for Penn Staters. Around 700 volunteers dance for 46 hours. No sitting, sleeping, or breaks. They are on their feet at all times.
Doing this activity affects the human body in many different ways. According to Medical News Today, “The effects of sleep deprivation intensify the longer a person stays awake. After going without sleep for 48 hours, a person's cognitive performance will worsen, and they will become very fatigued.”
Healthline reported that two days without sleep might experience periods of light sleep, aka microsleeps, that can last up to 30 seconds. In this condition, the brain is in a sleeplike state and afterwards you might feel confused. Staying awake for this long also can disrupt the immune system.
In whole, THON dancers could experience hormonal imbalances, decreased motivation, risky decisions, decreased attention, speech impairments, memory deficits and hallucinations. Knowing all of this, it is crucial for dancers to prepare months in advance.
CommRadio spoke with Kathryn Tague, a second-year majoring in public relations, who is dancing in THON.
“I have always known I wanted to be involved in Thon,” she said. “But never in my wildest dreams would I expect to be dancing my second-year (of college). That was not something I anticipated.”
She talked about her friend’s passion and desire to dance in THON and Tague was touched by her story. Little did she know that she would be on the center stage dancing for 46 hours.
Tague has been preparing months in advance for this opportunity.
She is living with her grandparents, they live 10 minutes outside of campus, for a week to get 10 hours of sleep and to have peace and quiet. She was tested on Thursday for COVID-19 and in order to be more safe she is staying with her grandparents.
Tague has also been watching her eating habits and exercising more. “I usually don’t drink caffeine so I made sure to cut it out three months ago. I have been trying to eat a lot and eat healthy, whole meals,” Tague said.
“I have been working out pretty consistently for the past two months. I will go on runs, an incline on the treadmill, or do light-lifting here and there to strengthen my legs is my main focus.”
She said many people have been giving her advice and she said they told her, “Stretching has been a huge thing. Everyone says you need to stretch a lot the week before.”
Preparing for three months and dancing for 46 hours, Tague discussed what she’s going to do after the event. “My parents are coming up for the weekend. They are going to pick me up after THON, whatever I need at the moment, [they are going to be there]. I don’t know if I am going to be awake, I have no idea how I am going to respond,” Tague said.
Those who choose to dance is a choice, not an obligation. Many students want to be a part of the experience to help raise money to find a cure.
Tague concluded saying, “Anyone who has the opportunity to get involved in THON, in any shape or form, do it. It is an amazing cause and it’s so much fun.”
To donate or to find out more information, visit the THON website: https://thon.org/.
Emily McGlynn is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Third-year / Broadcast Journalism