Less than two months away from one of the biggest events of the year at Penn State, the organizers of THON are still envisioning what the event may look like and how much money it might raise.
Because of COVID-19, for the first time in 47 years Penn State’s THON will be virtual. When the event kicks off Feb. 19, students may not be able to dance together. Fund-raising may be very different, too.
The dance marathon bills itself as the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Traditionally, it is a 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping, dance marathon that raises millions of dollars a year for families of children with cancer. Since 2007 the THON weekend has taken place in the Bryce Jordan Center, filling it to its 15,261 capacity.
From 1973 to now, THON has raised more than $180,000,000. More than 16,500 student volunteers participate directly in helping to raise money for children’s cancer treatments, medication, and hospitalization.
In 2020, THON raised $11,696,942.38. Students from organizations doing the fund-raising say that because of the pandemic, this year they have little hope that THON 2021 will end up raising as much.
The THON executive committee is more optimistic.
“Everyone who has been a former supporter of THON has reach out to us with open arms saying ‘how can we help? How can we get involved this year?’” said Aidan Cliff, THON donor and alumni relations director. He thinks THON 2021 could surpass the amount raised in 2020.
Not only the 46-hour weekend will be virtual, most of the events THON has done this year to raise money have been virtual too, as a precaution against COVID-19.
“Safety is our priority,” said THON public relations director Samantha Koon.
In this virtual world, no one is certain how the dancers will actually dance during THON weekend.
Organizers says there’s no doubt that THON 2021 will have dancers. Plenty of organizations already selected the dancers who will represent them. But the THON executive committee, and the students at 46Live who plan to stream the event, are currently not sure what THON weekend will exactly look like.
Bill Hallman, faculty advisor to 46Live, said all his students know for now is that the THON weekend will be live streamed on THON.org by 46Live. Since it is presumed that the THON weekend won’t be taking place in just one location this year, 46Live believes they will probably need to work extra hard this year to create a single stream from people sending them their live video recordings.
“We might be getting sources that not only come from the Bryce Jordan Center, but all over Pennsylvania, or all over the country,” Hallman said.
Even though the dancers might not know how they will be dancing on the THON weekend, Alyssa Inacio, the family relations chair and a dancer for Alpha Delta Pi, said she is still excited to perform and help raise money for the cause. Even if it means dancing alone in front of her computer.
“If I have to stand in my apartment, I will do it. I have awesome roommates and they will cheer me on the whole way,” Inacio said.