Sights and sounds of THON 2020

Story posted February 22, 2020 in News, THON 2020 by CommMedia THON 2020 team

THON estimates that about one in three undergraduates at University Park, more than 16,000 students, participate directly in the 46-hour charity event.

QWxleCBNb29uLCBhIHNlbmlvciBtYWpvcmluZyBpbiBwb2xpdGljYWwgc2NpZW5jZSBhbmQgcHN5Y2hvbG9neSwgaXMgc3VwcG9ydGVkIGJ5IEFsYW5hIEJvZXJsaW4gQ2xhc3Mgb2YgMjAxOSwgdG8gZ2V0IG1vcmUgYmxvb2QgdG8gaGlzIGhlYWQgZHVyaW5nIFRIT04gYXQgdGhlIEJyeWNlIEpvcmRhbiBDZW50ZXIgb24gU2F0dXJkYXksIEZlYi4gMjIsIDIwMjAgTW9vbiBpcyBkYW5jaW5nIGZvciBMaW9uIEFtYmFzc2Fkb3JzLiAoIDI6NDUgcG0gIFNhdHVyZGF5KSBQaG90byBieSBDYWl0bGluIExlZQ==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CommMedia coverage of past THONs has been archived by date: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
  • Preparation
  • 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.



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.




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.



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.





Saturday: In Rhythm

Energy radiates out of the Bryce Jordan Center when a popular band takes the stage.




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:



Some people dress up to stand out in the crowd.




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




One of the featured elements of THON is a line dance specific to that year's year's theme.



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.






Friday evening: Launch time

Students and THON families pack the Bryce Jordan Center as the event begins.



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.



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




About the Contributors

Ethan Cook's photo

Ethan Cook

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Ethan is a play-by-play announcer for CommRadio who is aspiring to be a college football analyst for either a major sports network or a college radio station.

Jeremy Ganes's photo

Jeremy Ganes

Senior / Journalism

Jeremy Ganes is an aspiring sports broadcaster and journalist at Penn State. He writes articles, produces broadcasts, and announces games for the CommRadio sports department. He also co-hosts an NFL-focused talk show called 4th & Long that airs live on CommRadio, alongside DJ Bauer. In addition to CommRadio content, Jeremy also assists in production and serves as an on-air personality to the PSNtv show Penn State Sports Night, where he covers sports such as baseball and football. He is also a reporter and producer for the Centre County Report. He can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Caitlin Lee's photo

Caitlin Lee

Senior / Photojournalism

I work as a photographer and photo copy desk at the Daily Collegian. I previously worked as a visuals intern at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in the summer of 2018. I was also a participant in the Student Newsroom for the 2019 Online News Association. I aspire to be a sports photographer working for a professional team or media company.

Lauren Ansell's photo

Lauren Ansell

Junior / Digital and Print Journalism

I am the News Writer for the Rock Ethics Institute and the Marketing Assistant for PRPS. I’m searching for a summer internship in either multimedia journalism or marketing.

Rachel Gelfand's photo

Rachel Gelfand

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

Rachel Gelfand is a senior from York, Pennsylvania pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in psychology. Post-graduation, she aspires to become a content creator or work in the social media sector. In the summer of 2019, she was a social media and communications intern for Volograms, a technology startup based in Dublin, Ireland.

Amanda Thieu's photo

Amanda Thieu

Senior / Photojournalism/Pre-Law

I am currently a photographer for Onward State. My minor is currently Visual Arts and I aspire to go to law school after graduation.

Paige Hooven's photo

Paige Hooven

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

I aspire to produce and edit when I graduate school. Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern with Philadelphia’s country radio station 92.5 XTU.

Christina Veintimilla's photo

Christina Veintimilla

Senior / Photojournalism

Previously worked as a Marketing/Banking Services intern at Centennial Commercial Finance Group located in New York, NY. Looking to continue working in marketing/communications in the New York City area.

Elizabeth Irvin's photo

Elizabeth Irvin

Senior / Communications

After graduation I aspire to be a television or radio producer. I have worked with television and radio in a college setting and have worked on a wide variety of multimedia projects.

Melina Chumley's photo

Melina Chumley

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

When I graduate college I hope to work in Public Relations for a Philadelphia sports team. I interned at a local gym this past summer and helped maintain their social media accounts.

Lillian Swartzell's photo

Lillian Swartzell

Senior / Digital and Print Journalism

I help create videos for VALLEY magazine, and previously wrote articles for Penn State’s HerCampus Chapter. My minor is in entrepreneurship and innovation. I plan to graduate in Spring 2020.

Kayla Simmons's photo

Kayla Simmons

Senior / Broadcast Journalism & Psychology

Kayla is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology with a minor in Korean. She has done a multimedia journalism project through the 2019 Lens Collective Workshop held by Ole Miss.

Joseph Harre's photo

Joseph Harre

Senior / Broadcast Journalsim

Summer 2019 Game Day Operations Intern at Reading United. Senior Broadcast Journalism Student at Penn State University.