Controversy at the Bloomsburg Fair over Penn State Students Collecting for THON

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BLOOMSBURG -- Two separate controversies marred the start of the Bloomsburg Fair this year.

One involves a vendor selling Nazi flags. The other has to do with fundraising for Penn State's THON.

On Saturday, Penn State University students collected money in Bloomsburg and other places for THON, the 46-hour dance marathon organized by Penn State students to raise money for the fight against pediatric cancer.

But when three of those students brought their cans onto Bloomsburg Fair property, they ran into trouble with fair security.

"Told them about it three times, so then I had my security people bring them into the office," said Bill Barratt, director of security at the Bloomsburg Fair.

Barratt said the fair does not allow soliciting. The Penn State students did not have permission to be on the fairgrounds and did not leave when they were asked to. Barratt confiscated the $74.60 that the students collected.

"I am not (giving the money back). I have no paperwork saying it's legal,” Barratt said.

THON has been a tradition at Penn State since 1977 and has raised more than $127 million for pediatric cancer research. Barratt says these students had Penn State IDs, but no paperwork.

The Bloomsburg Fair has its own day to benefit pediatric cancer. It's on Friday and it's called Go for the Goal.

Barratt plans to give the money he confiscated from the Penn State students to the fair's fundraiser, which benefits Janet Weis Children's Hospital near Danville.

"It's not their money to take, I don't think. It was on their property, but still. It's not their money," said Lee Kelchner of Millville.

"They're doing it for a good charity, and I don't think it's right. To me, it's going to give the fair a bad name," said Tony Amato of Swoyersville.

Amato said if he had donated on Saturday, he would be upset.

"If I give to a charity, I want it to go to that charity."

Fair officials are standing their ground.

"I have no proof that these students were doing it for that," Barratt said.

Barratt plans to visit Penn State on behalf of the Bloomsburg Fair. He wants to talk to university officials about the fair's policy on soliciting.


  • penn state nittany pedohiles

    just give those drunken thoners a couple of 8 year old boys in football PJs and they will be happpyin the valley

  • Bill

    First Innocent Until Proven Guilty
    Second the Chief of Security cannot arbitrarily decide what to do with the money. There are laws governing the disposition of evidence seized in a criminal investigation.
    I hate to inform Mr. “I am not giving the money back” Barrett that if the students are actually charged and found innocent that a Judge will decide the fate of the confiscated funds. I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that the County District Attorneys Office will not prosecute the students in question. I am also going to bet that the District Attorney’s Office will require the Chief of Security to return the funds to the students and THON.

  • Marie

    Well we heard Mr. Barratt’s side. Student’s side: They talked to someone there who said they could only can outside the fairgrounds, and they “followed all rules”. Nobody told them to leave until when their cans were confiscated.

    I think the fair is lying! I believe the student version.

  • Larry

    ever hear of over saturation good little THON money collector people? stop clogging up traffic and if you’re going to collect money don’t look hung over. THON is there to help hide the shame that is PSU. Football and THON won’t hide the shame or erase what happened to the victims. What about the victims ?! Football ! statues of Joe Pa ! THON !

    • Truth

      Get real. Not everything having to do with Penn State has to do with the Sandusky scandal. Leave the students alone. Most of them probably weren’t even attending Penn State at that time.

      • Truth

        You’re not even worth arguing with. Your mind is immature and your logic is that of a child. Clearly you think the actions of a specific group of people reflects the university as a whole. You’re also probably one of those people who think that all Muslims are bad because of the actions of a few, am I right?

    • PSU Alumni

      Actually, it is not theft. They were enforcing the law. If the PSU students refuse to follow the law, the consequences are on them, not on the Bloomsburg Fair. The Law is the law. No matter the good intentions of the PSU students, that does not forgive them for ignoring the law.

      • NikkiStadnitskiMartini

        Too bad they are rent a cops and not real patrol persons. Take my personal belongings and you will be dealing with more than just the police.

      • Cville

        You don’t know what you are talking about. A property owner or his/her agent (i.e. Bloomsburg Fair Security) has the right to ask someone to leave the property, and the right to call police and press trespassing charges if the persons do not leave. They do not have the right to confiscate property and keep it. Bloomsburg Fair Security is not the judicial system.

  • penn state nittany pedohiles

    i thought the only childrens charities penn staters give to is to the pedophiles. Penn State is a disgusting place. A true disgrace to the great state of Pennsylvania.

    • E

      It’s amusing that your region, nepa, is a dumping ground for sex offender trash. Lol. One sex abuse scandal, like the one at Penn State, doesn’t make it a bad place. I guess pointing the finger makes you feel better about living in a burnt out coal slum full of coal miner, sex offender garbage. :)

  • Kathy Herman

    My daughter participated in that collection. There were seven students that volunteered from the Earth and Mineral Science College of Penn State that “canned” OUTSIDE the Bloomsberg Fair. They had permission. The head of security lied on camera. These students attend many meetings and are totally aware of the rules and regulations. Thanks to them they raised $10,091.75 for a great cause and that’s what’s important to them. The
    Security department needs to return that money. End of story, The money does not go to the university.

    • PSU Alumni

      If they were soliciting on Fairground property, they were breaking the law, even if it was outside the entrance. College students should be intelligent enough to understand the law and know to obey the law. If they willingly chose to break the law, no matter their good intention, then they have to receive the consequences. That is what the law is for.

      • NikkiStadnitskiMartini

        Hey Dain Brammage! (1) They were outside the property. (2) They are rent a cops and not true law enforcement. They cannot take personal property from outside their property. (3) There was not any law broken by the students, only security.

    • GrammarIsImportant

      Ignorance of the law is no defense. They should have taken the time to find out the rules. They are adults, not children.

  • Gene Auman

    We are on our way back from the fair that we usually visit every year & spend atl minimum $ 100 at vendors. If an apology is not given and the funds given back to THON this may be my last time there. PSU ALum

    • PSU Alumni

      Ultimatums are not the correct course of action. The students broke the law. The students themselves are the ones who should replace the money, since they broke the law.

      • Frank Watson

        What law, stupid? This buffoon that took the money isn’t a real cop, he’s some hillybilly redneck that probably likes the livestock at the fair (if you know what I mean) better than people. Again, what law did these kids break? I am pretty sure some ignorant buffoon just can’t come and take the money they raised?

  • Bleepnoid

    Perhaps, these college students should concentrate on studying. Then, again, many college kids go to school to avoid going to work.

  • Shari

    That is ridiculous, I understand them making them leave but to keep their money is sick. What these kids do is a wonderful thing. This man should be ashamed. I will never attend his fair!!

  • Jeff

    Do people in the WNEP area have a true grasp on how THON operates? THON donates all money to the Four Diamonds Fund. The Four Diamonds Fund only financially helps patients treated at Hershey Medical Center. Four Diamonds also spends over 1.5 million dollars on the salaries of patient care providers who practice at Penn State Hershey. THON/Four Diamonds also spent used millions of dollars to help build the new Penn State Children’s Hospital. THON/Four Diamonds are also not separate 501c3 organizations, and thus have zero obligation to formally report how their money is being spent.

    Although the Penn State students are raising money for a worth cause, I would think people in the WNEP area would much rather support their local families and local children’s hospital, and not a multi million dollar operation that doesn’t have any direct impact locally.

      • Jeff

        Or maybe a better question is why doesn’t Four Diamonds help pediatric cancer families treated at other children’s hospitals in PA, especially if they do significant fundraising all over the state? They certainly have enough money to do so. Is their mission to “Help Kids with Cancer” or “Help Kids with Cancer (But Only if You Come to Our Hospital)?”

        Be proud your daughter is getting involved at a young age. But as far as I’m concerned, her and her friends just raised $10,000 out of the Bloomsburg area that could have had a significant impact for local families and the local children’s hospital, rather than going to a children’s hospital system that Columbia County rarely visits.

    • Peggy

      Money raised by THON is also used for research that benefits all children with cancer. You can say the same thing about St. Jude’s in Memphis TN. People all over the country donate to them. Research money is so important because of all money that goes to cancer research only 5% is allocated towards Children’s cancer. My daughter danced at THON at Penn State in 2000. It had a great influence on her life. She is now a physician who takes care of children with cancer. Proud of the work these students from Penn State do for Children’s Cancer. September is Children’s Cancer Awareness month. Everyone should help towards a cure. Like THON always states “for the kids”. ………..all kids everywhere even Bloomsburg.

      • Jeff

        I agree that childhood cancer research needs some attention, and am glad to see places start to allocate more funds to this domain.

        However, THON/Four Diamonds have created a model where they state they are doing research, but then ‘oh by the way, we are going to use 1.8 million dollars every year to pay our child life specialists, musical therapists, social workers, etc…) And ‘oh by the way, we are only going to financially help families who come to our facility. But in the meantime, we will fundraise all over the state and nation and not really tell donors this and just pretend it is all going to research.

        I would have no problem with THON if 100% of their money went to research, but that is definitely not the case. And people in this area donate to THON thinking it is.

    • NikkiStadnitskiMartini

      How much have you raised for your local children’s hospital? I am guessing I already know the answer.

  • Pamela Burg

    Well then…let me give a shout-out to the local McDonald’s in the Colonial Park section of Harrisburg. They were kind enough to care about the canners’ safety and let them collect right at the drive thru lane! And thank you Subway and Chipotle’s for donating some of your proceeds to THON! Can’t this guy in Bloomsburg see what bad publicity he’s getting, and how petty and vindictive his actions appear?

  • Marie

    The donors intended for the money to go to THON – the Penn State charity for Pediatric Cancer Research. Fair officials should return the $ to THON. What is wrong with the Fair Officials. You can’t take $ from Peter and give it to Paul!! Disgusting.

    • Jeff

      THON is not a charity. Four Diamonds is not a charity. They are essentially branches of Penn State University. They have zero obligation to report how their money is spent. You might as well cut a check directly to The Pennsylvania State University.

      • Jeff

        Robin, Please show me THON and Four Diamonds 990 that is filed with the IRS. You won’t find one because they aren’t recognized 501c3 charities by the IRS, and thus have zero obligation to formally report who they pay and how they spend their money. Sure, they create an annual report, but this is a very watered down version of what the IRS requires annually of true non-profits.

      • Bennycat

        Will my donation be tax-exempt?
        Yes. All donations are tax-deductible under 170c(1) status. If requested, we can provide an IRS-certified tax exemption equivalency letter to the 501(c)3. Our Federal Tax ID number is 24-6000-376.

        Why is THON not a 501(c)3 tax exemption organization?
        Due to the nature of our fundraising, for instance, the inability to track donors from canning, we are listed as a 170(c)1 tax-exempt organization and not a 501(c)3. (See above question for tax equivalency and tax exemption details).

      • Jeff

        Bennycat, Thank you for copying and pasting from a FAQ page on a website. You just provided us with Penn State’s EIN number (tax exempt number), and further proved the point that THON/Four Diamonds all falls under the larger tax umbrella known as The Pennysylvania State University. You would think a ‘charity’ that brings in more than 20 million dollars a year would be their own separate organization so that they would be obligated to report how they spend their money, who they are paying with it, etc… Instead it reaks of lack of transparency and is conveniently hidden within the larger tax filings of Penn State at large.

        If the Four Diamonds and/or THON were separate 501c3 organizations, they would legally be obligated to list their top 10 salaries, state whether or not they pay their board of directors, amongst another things. Don’t you think a 20 million dollar a year ‘charity” should have this transparency available to the public?

  • laura

    lol all they do at the fair is solicit nothing but money money money. those students probably collected 3 times that amount and the “security” probably pocketed it

  • buzz

    permits ? yea. Just like New Mexico where you need one for Oil wells that is so regulation nation it takes 3 weeks to get one for a portapot. Permits smermits. I get what they are saying here. but where do you draw the line folks?

  • Jeff Norma

    Many people in this area are truly unfamiliar with THON, which benefits the Four Diamonds Fund. The Four Diamonds Fund solely benefits families who are treated at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, thus not many families from Bloomsburg will travel to Hershey when they have Geisinger nearby. Additionally, the Four Diamonds Fund spends more than 1.8 million dollars every year on the salaries of patient care providers. These are patient care providers that not many families in our area will every see. Also, 10 million dollars of THON/Four Diamonds went towards building their new children’s hospital several years ago.

    I agree that the money should be returned to the organization is was raised for, but perhaps people in our area should start supporting their local children’s hospital at Geisinger, must like Barratt suggested.

Comments are closed.

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