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Convincing the average person that Greeks do more than party can be harder than trying to convince a sorority girl that Lilly Pulitzer looks stupid. But every once in a while, a philanthropy powerhouse of an event comes along that could make even the biggest Greek-hater believe in the good of Greek life. THON is one of those events.
The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, or commonly known as THON, is a 46-hour dance marathon that had 708 participants this year, and spectator numbers had the Bryce Jordan Center brimming to its 15,000 person capacity. At several points during the weekend, spectators were not allowed to enter unless they had been officially recalled.
Since 1977, THON has raised over $137 million, including this year’s total of $9.7 million, to support the Four Diamonds Fund. Four Diamonds, the inspiration for the diamond hand symbol that can be seen thrown up in the air throughout the weekend, supports families battling pediatric cancer at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. They pay for whatever insurance doesn’t to ensure access to any specialists needed, and also pour time and money into research for a cure.
This year’s THON was particularly heartfelt, as they coped with the loss of one of their peers, Tally Sepot, to a car accident during a canning trip. The signature method of fundraising for THON, canning, involves weekend trips where students travel to all corners of Pennsylvania to collect whatever change or spare money they can convince people to put in their tin cans. After the loss, canning trips were suspended, and many speculate that it is the reason THON fell short of the previous year’s total of $13.02 million. Although every THON is filled with emotional moments, the primary feeling throughout the arena is joy. A year’s worth of work culminating in two days of dancing and fun surrounded by friends, families, and the very children they are working to save.
In the face of tragedy, THON continued on and even without beating the record from 2015, and still shattered the expectations of anyone who dared to think that Greeks don’t contribute to their communities. While the event has grown to include organizations of every kind at Penn State, Greeks remain deeply rooted in the event and are always among the top contributors. This year’s top fundraising Greeks:
1. Zeta Tau Alpha and Alpha Tau Omega – $260,705
2. Alpha Sigma Alpha and Lambda Chi Alpha – $220,964
3. Gamma Phi and Acacia – $165,906
Seeing the show go down was even more amazing.
— PSU Dance Marathon (@THON) February 21, 2016
Efforts for THON 2017 started the moment THON 2016 was over. The committee hosts a seemingly endless number of events throughout the year to support and raise funds for the annual total — from a 5K run to a Penn State basketball game to a Mr. and Ms. THON pageant among committee captains.
THON is the embodiment of what Greeks are really about in this day and age. We can’t all be on the same scale at $10 million, but they get there by collecting pocket change on street corners. Every service and philanthropy event that a Greek has a hand in, no matter the dollar amount involved, is a step in the right direction for the reputation of Greek life across America..
[via Onward State]
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