Branch Campuses Shift for a Virtual THON

Story posted February 20, 2021 in News, CommRadio by Shelby Lincoln

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Every year thousands of Penn State students gather in the Bryce Jordan Center to participate in THON and raise money for pediatric cancer. Among the crowd, are Penn State THON organizations and students from commonwealth campuses. 

With THON 2021 shifting to be virtual, the organizations, students and their dancers will be at home. Many have also changed the way they fundraise in their respective communities.

During this year, Penn State Abington’s campus has remained barren. Many students are commuters, but were attending their classes via Zoom. As a result, THON Executive Director Kaeli Whalley moved all of their meetings, family interactions and fundraising online.

“We’ve made use of social media for that means to try to get people to come to our events, Whalley said, “Donor Drive has been an easy way of saying ‘Hey, we’re not in-person, but here’s our link.’”

Even with the changes, Abington’s overall 2021 donations were still about a quarter less than previous years.

The organization also chose two students to dance throughout the weekend. Family Relations Director and sophomore Julia Valletti is ready to dance for the first time at THON.

“I’m kind of going in with the expectation that it’ll be a bit of a struggle,” Valleti said, “Luckily I’ll have my family there with me, my boyfriend will be there cheering me on.”

At Penn State Mont Alto, their THON organization supports the Lightner and Schneider families through online events, such as concerts and a polar plunge. The organization has raised just over $10,000. Even with virtual meetings, Family Relations Director Audrey Glassmyer helped plan their annual outdoor bonfire to support their Four Diamonds’ families.

“…for their son, Austin, it was actually his thirteenth birthday that day,” Glassmyer exclaimed, “We had some cake, some pizza, we played some games…and it was a really great night.”

As a part of her senior year, Glasmyer will be dancing for the first time throughout the weekend. She and her fellow dancers have been preparing by getting extra sleep and meal prepping.

Despite the challenges the Abington and Mont Alto THON organizations faced, they continually have pushed forward, “For the Kids.”

Shelby Lincoln is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. She can be reached at sml5796@psu.edu.