The Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon 5K fundraiser kicked off the THON 2013 season outside of the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday morning and drew a record-breaking crowd.
“We broke 7,000 registrants this year, making it the most successful 5K yet,” Overall Public Relations Chairperson Cat Powers (senior-public relations) said. “There are lots of high spirits and a lot of people signing up. This is the first THON event kicking off the new season, and it gets everyone excited.”
Upon arrival to the event, participants picked up their registration numbers at Gate A at the Bryce Jordan Center and were able to participate in dances happening in the streets with committee members and the Nittany Lion mascot.
Some Penn State students chose to sign up for the event for not only the donation to THON but for the experience itself.
“I thought it would be a unique, memorable experience, and I wanted to get more involved in THON,” Kelly Dowd (freshman-business) said.
The Kid’s Race, which began at about 10:40 a.m., featured kids of all ages running in various costumes, some including pirates, superheroes and an ostrich.
Nine year old Clay Hamman, sporting a boxing costume marked on its back with the saying “knock out cancer,” returned with his family to the 12th Annual THON 5k.
“It's my fourth time here. This event is very important to us. It raises money, raises awareness to the fight against pediatric cancer, and the kids have a good time,” Clay’s father Tim Hamman said.
At 19 months old, Clay Hamman was diagnosed with liver cancer, and his father said that because of the effort of the students involved with THON, his son was able to overcome his illness.
This year was Clay’s second year participating in the “big race,” since he said he is too big for the kid’s race.
“Thanks to THON and Hershey Medical Center, he underwent chemotherapy for a year, and this year he will be seven years cancer-free,” Hamman said.
In between the Kid’s Race and the 5K race, the first annual costume contest ceremony took place, where kids’ costumes were recognized and awarded with Halloween baskets.
Along with the costume ceremony, the Weinsheimer family spoke about their family story and about their son, Bryan, who will be five years cancer-free this April.
When given the microphone, Bryan Weinsheimer, age 9, said “thank you,” and then proceeded to get a “We Are” chant echoing through the streets near the Bryce Jordan Center.
Shortly after festivities wrapped up, runners began warming up and stretching for the 5K race, which began at the sound of the horn at 11:30 a.m.
The first runner crossed the finish line at 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Other competitive and fun runners all filed in shortly afterwards, with some in costumes themselves including several banana suits and even a robot suit.
Special Events Overall Chairwoman Lakshmi Kolandra, who along with the Overall Committee began planning the event last March, said it was interesting to see the 5K unfold from her point of view.
“I remember placing the order for our tents this summer, and it is incredible to see plans and orders like this come to life,” Kolandra (senior-immunology and infectious diseases) said. “With the addition of the THON captains' hard work, we were really able to create something special this year.”
With the first special event of THON over, Kolandra said she couldn’t have asked for anything more and said everything ran than smoothly.
“It was a great day to kick off the THON season, and to show all of our Four Diamonds Families that we are there for them in their fight for more than just one weekend,” Kolandra said. “Our support is all year-long and cancer doesn't stop, so neither will we.”