In years past, members of the Penn State University community would gather at the Bryce Jordan Center for live performances and party the entire weekend. On February 19, the events began; however, this year looked different. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students held the events virtually. This did not change the impact THON had on the community.
Since 1973, Penn State University has held THON. This is an annual event run fully by students of the university where all participants must stand for 46 hours. Their mission is to bring awareness to the issue of childhood cancer. They do different activities throughout the weekend to earn money for this cause.
Trae Bauman, an alumni of Bellefonte Area High School and now a freshman at Penn State University and a member of the THON committee was able to give some insight into the changes of THON.
“Being in this committee we did most of the setup and tear down for the event. In a normal year, we would have had a lot more responsibilities throughout the weekend,” Trae said.
Every year THON follows a theme. This year the theme was “Rise and Unify.” A student of the school felt as though this event and the events of 2020 and 2021 were the perfect opportunity to come together and the theme was born. The live stream of the virtual events started at 6 p.m. on February 19. The first thing was the introduction of the students that put the entire thing together. Then everyone taking part in the weekend was asked to stand to begin the 46 hours.
According to Onwardstate.com, once the events of THON were in full swing, the kids’ mail call brought joy to those involved in the event. This is an activity where the kids and parents with cancer share letters from the volunteers and other people involved in THON.
On Saturday, THON was resumed at about 6 a.m. They had live stream performances from artists like OK Otter and Vision to None. They also held THON Idol. Here, members of the THON community were given the chance to showcase their talents. At around 7 p.m., the virtual THON pep rally began. During this event, members of the THON committee got the people excited and kept them moving, later ending the livestream for the day.
Sunday rolled around and everyone was excited to learn how much money they earned to support childhood cancer research. At 4 p.m., participants were allowed to get off their feet and THON officially came to an end. In an unprecedented year, Penn State News reports that THON raised a total $10,638,078.62. For many of the students, seeing this number brings them joy unlike any other.
“My favorite part of the weekend was either being able to see all of our fundraising pay off with the total reveal,” Trae said.
With the COVID-19 pandemic being an obstacle for the students at THON, they found a way to overcome and they made the most of it. A virtual THON was not something they wanted, but they pushed through and were able to make just as much as they did in 2019 when they were actually together at the Bryce Jordan Center. Now the planning begins for next year. How much will they make? Only time will tell.