Sights and sounds of THON 2020
THON estimates that about one in three undergraduates at University Park, more than 16,000 students, participate directly in the 46-hour charity event.
Since its inception has raised more than $150 million to benefit the families of children with cancer. The organization bills itself as the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, both in revenue and volunteer participation. For one weekend every year, THON takes over the Bryce Jordan Center and becomes the focus of activity at University Park.
This coverage is organized by time, from most recent to preparing for the event. If you're new to THON, Centre County Report reprter Jamie Burton provides a preview of the event.
THON has this interactive timeline that charts the history of the event.
CommMedia has a comprehensive timeline of all of 2020 social media coverage.
CommMedia coverage of past THONs has been archived by date:
This blog organizes coverage by day and time:
- Sunday: On the home stretch
- Saturday: In Rhythm
- Friday evening: Launch time
- Timeline: THON 2020
Sunday: The Reveal
After 46 hours of adrenaline, the final burst of energy sweeps across the Bryce Jordan Center as the total is revealed, surpassing the previous year's find-raising by just more than a million dollars.
Sunday: On the home stretch
Dancer Keith Rieser's mom, Sue, drove to University Park to support her son, then waited outside the Bryce Jordan Center on a beautiful spring day for him to emerge after 46 hours on his feet.
Sue Rieser shares her #THON2020 expierence as Keith Rieser’s supportive mom for the fourth year in a row. #commthon2020— Lauren M Ansell (@LaurenAnsell21) February 23, 2020
(2/23 2:15pm) pic.twitter.com/RqHazwPLhF
This super senior engineering student treasures her experience of going to THON as a sophomore, but chose to study Sunday afternoon as events at the Bryce Jordan Center approached their peak.
This crew of volunteers was still going strong in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Donor Alumni Relations Committee members, Jackie G. (far left), Isy B. (Second to left), Remi M.(center), MaKenzie O.(second to right), and Abbey L. (far right) are taking a quick break to eat and refuel before heading back down on the floor here are THON tonight. They’ve been at the BJC for 27 hours so far with only a combined total of 3 hours in breaks. #commthon2020 #psuthon2020 #psuthon
Penn State sophomore Lailah Goldberg is working her second THON as a member of the Rules and Regulations Committee. Despite being on the job well after midnight, and spending much of her time saying, "No," Goldberg still has a positive attitude. She says she was inspired To volunteer at THON by one friend and has stayed after making many, many more friends.
Penn State sophomore Lailah Goldberg talks about her job at THON! #COMMTHON2020 pic.twitter.com/SpczBvrPw2— rachel gelfand (@rachelanita12) February 23, 2020
Many of the fund-raising organizations at THON have been active for years. And, as this series of images shows, some reflect evolving student interests and are new.
The Stone Zone has been looking forward to this weekend all year since their “creation” as a club. Earlier this year, one of the founding members had a close friend diagnosed with cancer. To support her, Penn State Curling Club and the Stone Zone had their own special fundraiser to help with medical costs. Together, they raised over $750. What they originally planned to be an attempt for something fun to do Sunday nights to watch curling matches, turned into an experience that gave them an even closer feeling to THON. #COMMTHON2020 (Credit to Jon Flatley for the images, taken during 2:30 AM at THON, and last semester)
Saturday: In Rhythm
Energy radiates out of the Bryce Jordan Center when a popular band takes the stage.
Confetti falls in the Bryce Jordan Center as Cash Cash performs at THON #commthon2020 pic.twitter.com/7Fb6FpNfkm— Christina Veintimilla (@ChristinaVeinti) February 23, 2020
THON isn't just about what happens on the main floor of the Bryce Jordan Center. Most people attending the event take turns occupying the seats above the dancers and THON families. They stand in solidarity. Many are there to cheer on specific dancers:
A giant print-out of dancer Alicia Santarsiero’s face is waved around by her friend Gabriella Sinatra. Both are students at Penn State Scranton. Saturday at 4pm. #COMMTHON2020 pic.twitter.com/S6crtM7Hp9— Lillian Swartzell (@LillySwartzell) February 22, 2020
Some people dress up to stand out in the crowd.
Alex Devic, a Penn State grad student in computer science, goes all out with his outfit for his 5th THON. Saturday at 3pm. #COMMTHON2020 pic.twitter.com/pARi7QzXPY— Lillian Swartzell (@LillySwartzell) February 22, 2020
Meanwhile, across the state and away from the crowded BJC, a THON fund-raiser sends out thank you notes during the event to her donors
Penn State student Lauren, writes thank you cards to all her generous donors. She has raised over $1000 to support Four Diamond families and THON. #COMMTHON2020— Melina Chumley (@ChumleyMelina) February 23, 2020
11:02 pm pic.twitter.com/EQvYEvZXGM
One of the featured elements of THON is a line dance specific to that year's year's theme.
shot at 12:47 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22nd, 2020. The dance and relations captain takes the stage to perform the line dance with a special little guest. #commthon2020 pic.twitter.com/C30c3ltUuh— Amanda Thieu (@MandaThieu) February 22, 2020
Each of the thousands of students participating in THON has a story behind why they are there. Here is a sampling, from in the stands and on the BJC dance floor.
Gaby Klein, senior, dancing in THON 2020 describes why she thons. @webcurtpsu pic.twitter.com/WwML80LwEf— Amanda Thieu (@MandaThieu) February 22, 2020
Friday evening: Launch time
Students and THON families pack the Bryce Jordan Center as the event begins.
Friday 9:21pm—Singer Daya came to show her support on stage at THON! #commthon2020 pic.twitter.com/4GK17RQuxC— Paige Hooven (@hooven_paige) February 22, 2020
Student-run 46 Live streams the event through the THON's website, allowing alums to follow the event across the state and around the world.
Cornell University student, Emma Ungar, was supposed to visit Penn State this weekend to support her friends dancing in THON but unfortunately something came up! Click below to see what happened!#COMMTHON2020— Melina Chumley (@ChumleyMelina) February 21, 2020
6:13 pm pic.twitter.com/BlFzUuhAXq
Preparing for THON
Staying awake and standing for 46 hours straight is no easy task. Reagan Mulholland, a senior majoring in Photojournalism, was chosen to be an independent dancer for THON 2020 after she experienced THON for the first time last year. Mulholland was able to be on the floor last year for one of her classes where she experienced first hand all of the work that went into the event and decided she wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself.
~ Video reporting by Caitlin Lee
Timeline: THON 2020