Why Some People Don’t THON

Story posted February 18, 2023 in CommRadio, News by Emily McGlynn

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Over 16,500 student volunteers work every year to help with the annual danceathon. This makes THON the world’s largest student-run philanthropy network.

While it seems like everyone participates, that’s not the truth. Around 100,000 students are enrolled at Penn State at several campuses. Roughly, only 16.5% of people are hands-on in this philanthropic effort.

For example, Nicholas Mangione, a fifth-year majoring in statistical modeling and data science, has only participated in THON for one semester during his first year of college.

“It is obviously a very well-respected event and it seems like something that a lot of students, especially the ones we [Mangione and friends] were around our freshman year, were doing,” Mangione said. “We wanted to get involved and see what it was about.”

The fifth-year did not join a THON organization until his second-semester of his first year, meaning the spring semester right before the 46-hour event. This is considered ‘late.’ Mangione felt left out and out of the loop.

“It was a little bit tougher than I feel like if we had gotten into it from the start,” said. Mangione. “It seemed like everybody had already known each other and there were these inside jokes.”

He did not feel fully included in the meetings and the people he was surrounded by.

“I feel like we didn’t get the full experience that a lot of other students got,” Mangione said.

Mangione explained that challenging life events got in the way of him returning to help with THON during his second year. However, he enjoyed the time he had during THON weekend.

After things settled down for Mangione, he was planning on returning to the THON organization. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everyone went into lockdown. Just like the whole world, he was upset about what was happening. He ended up never returning to a THON organization.

Mangione thinks THON is a great organization and supports it. If things did not get in the way, he thinks he would have been more involved.

Emily McGlynn is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email esm5378@psu.edu.