Every year, Penn State students participate in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, aka THON. It is going on NOW at Penn State and if you aren't there to see it in person, you can watch it streaming online at this website. Make sure you don't miss the line dance that is done every hour; it is hilarious and creative every year. I don't want to give too much away, but Lindsay Lohan definitely gets made fun of in the lyrics this year.
Even though the event happens only once a year, students work hard on it all year round and proudly show off their THON gear (clothing, bracelets, you name it) to spread the word and show pride and support. When I studied abroad in France, female Penn Students had to battle against popular French slang, because "thon" means tuna in French and is a slang word for "ugly girl." And armed with warnings about this from older Penn State students, people still insisted on bringing their THON clothing, because packing their Penn State pride was more important to them. Needless to say, Penn State has a very tight-knit community, and this family attitude makes it perfect for philanthropy like THON.
THON is Penn State's battle against pediatric cancer. It started in 1973 as a small dance marathon held in the HUB, a building that is considerably smaller than the Bryce Jordan Center where it is currently held. There were 39 dance couples participating and it raised $2000. To say that THON has grown since then would be a gross understatement. Now, THON has 15,000 volunteers, 700 dancers, and has raised over $69 million dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.
There are yearlong events to make THON's success possible. Students who are involved in THON get to know the families that they are raising money to help. They provide both emotional and financial support for these families. Many of the children who benefit from the effort that goes into THON actually attend the event and participate by speaking and performing on stage with the students.
Last year, at THON 2010, Penn State students raised $7,838,054.36 for pediatric cancer research. Every year they strive to beat the amount raised the previous year. Everyone can contribute. I urge everyone reading this to donate at this website
Check it out and definitely spread the word to those who don't know about this already. It's an excellent cause and I am proud to have gone to the school in charge of it. WE ARE.... PENN STATE!
**EDIT: THON 2011 raised $9,563,016.09 in total.