After dealing with months of scandal, then the loss of a loved coach, Penn State students now have a great excuse to spend the weekend cutting loose.
The annual THON dance marathon is taking place right now at the university’s main campus and it’s all to beat childhood cancer.
It was the kick-off to a weekend of endless dancing put on by one of the largest student-run charities in the world.
THON draws thousands of Penn State students and their supporters to the Bryce Jordan Center on the school’s main campus.
“Words don`t even describe what`s in this room right now,” said junior Shana Maschak. “Come Sunday, when it`s at capacity, that`s the best moment of our lives, you know, we`re doing this for the kids.”
Penn State`s dance marathon started in 1973 in an effort to raise money to fight childhood cancer.
Students said it`s a great cause but it`s tough work.
This is two days of no sitting, no sleeping, just dancing.
“So they`re truly on their feet for 46 hours,” said THON organizer Maggie Neese. “They have ‘moralers’, morale captains. So each dancer has someone that`s encouraging them, playing games with them, and doing things with them all weekend long.”
For the Mummert family, THON is saving lives, including that of their five-year old son Noah, who was cured of cancer a year ago after being treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
“The family support, the morale is outstanding, Penn State students, all around us, they`ve been helping us out for months and months,” said parent Ed Mummert.
It may be exhausting, but it`s also refreshing to cut loose.
It`s been a stressful time for Penn State students, seeing their school rocked by a child sex abuse scandal after the arrest of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky.
Then the firing of legendary coach Joe Paterno, which led to student riots on campus.
And finally, the passing of JoePa just last month.
But Paterno is here at THON, in their hearts.
Knowing the coach greatly supported this event, they said this dance is for him too.
“He gave so much and this was one of his biggest things,” said senior Chuck Frisbre.
THON certainly has paid off, raising more than $78 million over the years for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.