Four Diamonds Fund founder Charles Millard honestly thinks Beaver Stadium may need a roof someday.
He's "casually mentioned" the idea to Penn State President Graham Spanier, citing the rapid pace at which the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon has grown in the past 31 years of its partnership with Four Diamonds.
The fund benefits families affected by pediatric cancer, such as the Donnalds and the Hochs.
"Because of the Four Diamonds Fund, Hershey doesn't just treat cancer -- they take care of the whole picture mentally and emotionally," said Judy Hoch, whose son, Colby, died of cancer in 1997.
In the past 31 years, Thon, which donates to the Four Diamonds Fund, has expanded, outgrowing its home in Rec Hall two years ago and moving to the Bryce Jordan Center for the first time last year. Millard founded Four Diamonds after his son, Christopher, was diagnosed with cancer at age 11.
Millard, 79, was impressed by how Christopher was treated in Boston, where he was first sent.
"Anything we received in the way of treatment or follow-up was free," Millard said.
The Four Diamonds Fund got its name from a story Christopher wrote for an assignment in ninth grade. In the story, Sir Millard had to perform feats of courage, wisdom, honesty and strength.
Christopher died from cancer at age 14 in 1972.
In 1976, Millard looked into dance marathons the greek community had been conducting for the past several years in the HUB-Robeson Center.
"[The students in the greek community] were so taken with the idea that Penn State has been involved with the Four Diamonds Fund ever since," Millard said.
Millard will travel from Washington with his daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters to attend his 30th Thon this weekend.
"It's a pretty long journey for an old man like me, but I'm going to continue to come as long as I'm physically able," Millard said. "It's such a thrill to see the dedication and drive and enthusiasm that the students give to the project."
The Donnald family, of Hershey, Pa., has experienced Four Diamonds firsthand. Andrew Donnald was 2 years old when he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in October 2001.
Andrew's father, Heath Donnald, said the family benefited from meals Four Diamonds bought during Andrew's treatment. He also said his family has been blown away by the students involved with Thon.
"They made a huge impact on his life and ours," Heath said, adding that the most memorable moments were when students visited Andrew at Hershey.
"I remember this one time [Andrew] was in the toy room with the students, and he wasn't feeling well. Then the students broke out some shaving cream and everyone started making a mess," Heath said. "Seeing the smile on everyone's face, including Andrew's, was great."
Andrew died after attending his only Thon in 2003.
The Donnalds have had the courage to come to Thon every year since Andrew's death.
"As far as Thon goes, it's amazing that college kids run that thing," Heath said. "The organization and dedication that goes into it is unbelievable."
Millard said the students are the reason Thon is so successful.
"Penn State students really breathed life into the fund and really made it capable of doing what it does now for the thousands of families in the Pennsylvania area that have been treated," Millard said.
Judy, of Zionsville, Pa., has been involved with the Four Diamonds Fund ever since Colby was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma at age 2 in 1994.
Colby attended his only Thon in 1997.
"We weren't even in the doors half an hour and off he flew," Judy said. "We had to have him paged, and a half hour after we did, we saw him up on the stage. We were like, 'Colby, didn't you hear us calling for you?' and he just said, 'Yeah, but I was having fun.' "
After Colby died at age 5 in 1997, his family -- or "Thon groupies," as Judy calls them -- has mustered the strength to attend Thon regularly.
"It's like coming back home," Judy said. "It kept you grounded all those years, and it still does."
This year Judy has been asked to share her wisdom with the dancers, and she hopes to attend Thon both Saturday and Sunday.
"I swear to God I can see Colby in that crowd every year, running around," Judy said. "It's not him, but it is. They're all him. Coming back brings you back to him."