This weekend in University Park, thousands will participate in the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon – THON – to raise money for pediatric cancer patients this weekend.
Alongside 706 other students chosen to dance in the no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon, Lebanon County resident Rose McDaid is bringing years of passion for the cause to the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center.
McDaid was first introduced to THON as a sixth-grade student at Cedar Crest Middle School in Lebanon. She initially joined a Mini-THON committee to make friends at her new school, but after an eye-opening trip to the “real” THON in 2012 with her baton twirling team, she ramped up her involvement in the organization through the rest of middle school and into high school.
What is THON?
THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. The first marathon took place in 1973 with 78 dancers in a campus ballroom. In 1977, THON adopted the Four Diamonds Fund, established five years before to support children being treated for pediatric cancer at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, as its beneficiary. As the size and popularity of the event increased, THON outgrew several campus recreation spaces and eventually landed in its current home, the 15,261-seat Bryce Jordan Center in University Park. Since its inception, THON has raised around $168 million for patients, their families, and cancer research. For 46 hours every year, students, alumni, family, and friends file in and out of the arena for games, food, concerts, and a powerful sense of community.
After graduating from Cedar Crest High School, McDaid chose to attend the university where her parents met and where she visited so much as a child. Now a sophomore studying kinesiology and marching as a member of Penn State’s Blue Band, her participation in various THON organizations never slowed.
McDaid will dance with her best friend and roommate Jordan Pietrafitta this weekend as an Independent Dancer Couple (IDC). The pair has been fundraising through bake sales, decoration sales, selling yellow ribbons, and canvassing since July 2019.
“I learned that there are always wins and losses in fundraising,” she said. “We got rejected by companies or during canvassing trips. But I also learned that there are really generous people out there. One canvassing trip, a lady who we didn’t know at all wrote us a check for $100 as soon as we said ‘Penn State THON’.”
McDaid spent her week preparing for THON with lots of water and stretching. Still, when asked what she’s looking forward to the most this weekend, she admitted, “Honestly, I can’t wait for the bottomless PB&Js.”
THON kicked off at the Bryce Jordan Center on Friday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. and will run until Sunday, Feb. 23 at 4 p.m. LebTown will be following up McDaid’s weekend later on – for now, you can watch the THON livestream or follow coverage at Onward State or the Daily Collegian.
Do you know a Lebanon Countian with a connection to THON? Share with our newsroom team using the form below.
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