THON hosts annual 5K, generates excitement for February dance marathon

Story posted October 19, 2022 in Sports, News by Vanessa Wasden

THON hosted its annual 5K Sunday. This 3 ½  mile run around campus got the community fired up for another year of THON fundraising. Students, families, children and even some furry friends alike enjoyed a morning of fundraising and running for the kids.

The run was themed “Discover New Beginnings” and offered both a virtual and in-person participation method. The race started at the Bryce Jordan Center and traveled through the entire course of the University Park campus, ending back at the Bryce Jordan Center.

There was a live stream available from 10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on the THON website for participants who couldn’t make it in person. Runners enjoyed cheering and support from friends throughout the entirety of the race.

Food was provided to the runners and the Four Diamonds families with their registration. Food was also available for purchase from the Rolling Lion food truck. People were also able to purchase new THON merchandise at the event. Participants were able to register online in advance through the THON store or on the day of the event at a table. The registration fee was $10.

Runners were warmed up by a short pep rally featuring performances from this past year’s THON, the cheerleaders and goodies from the wrestling team. In-person participants also enjoyed a live raffle. There was also a family speaker on stage to provide everyone with a heartfelt speech. The 5K was powered by PNC Bank, which created a Spotify playlist to get runners pumped up for the race.

THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising over $203 million since it started in 1977. Every year, students fundraise money through various activities, bake sales and social media challenges leading to a 46-hour, nonstop dance marathon in February.

Dancers are not professional dancers, but rather they are Penn State students from organizations all over University Park and other commonwealth campuses. There are students from over 3,000 different organizations. Dancers are provided with free meals however spectators/supporters are only limited to bring in water.

Originally 30 hours, THON was extended to 48 hours the following year then back to 46 hours and it has remained there. THON can be livestreamed in more than thirty different countries. THON is no stranger to breaking records, in 2001 it broke the Guinness world record for the largest hug. In 2021, THON went virtual and held a remote dance marathon. In 2022, however, it returned to the Bryce Jordan Center and shattered records by raising $13,756,374.50.

Competitors were given the option to either run or walk the length of the 5K. Despite the option chosen, competitiveness levels were still high. The registration fee for the run will directly go to Four Diamonds Families at the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

Vanessa Wasden is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email