Darian Erb has been cancer free for 12 years. Though he doesn’t remember much about when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer at the age of three, he said he will always remember every THON weekend he ever attended.
“It’s one of the best things a person can go to,” Erb said.
The honor fraternity Phi Eta Sigma has been a part of Erb’s life for the past 13 year, and his close relationship with the organization has contributed to his positive experience at the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
“I love being with Phi Eta Sigma,” he said. “That’s what makes it so special.”
This past weekend, he and others hosted a mini-THON at a middle school in his hometown near Lancaster. Erb, now 17, is a member of the THON board at Hempfield High School and said that his high school reached out to the middle school in the hopes of getting more students involved.
Phi Eta Sigma THON Family Relations Chair Cortney Poorman said that while attending the five-hour mini-THON, it was great to see students showing support for THON, especially considering many are just learning about it.
Erb said in his hometown there are about eight other Four Diamonds children.
But for Erb, THON weekend means something different to him now, because he’s starting to look at colleges himself. Since he has been in remission for many years and has a very small chance of his cancer coming back, he said he now enjoys watching the younger kids take part in THON.
“I like seeing others have fun,” he said, whether the kids are dancing on stage or participating in the various contests.”
He said when he attends THON now, he’s able to look back on what he went through, adding that he feels sorry for those who are still going through treatment.
“[Cancer is] something you don’t want to remember,” Erb said.
Erb was treated at the Hershey Medical Center when he was diagnosed. He said people from the Four Diamonds Fund spoke to his parents about their organization and it was able to cover the cost of treatment not covered by insurance.
Though Erb will miss THON this year, he said he still has something to look forward to that weekend: a college visit.
“We would love to have him there, but it’s wonderful to see him moving on,” Phi Eta Sigma THON Co-Chair Emily Rankin said.
Rankin also said that Erb is “really accomplished” for his age, noting how many Advanced Placement classes he is taking.
As for his future, Erb wants to be outdoors. After participating in Boy Scouts for years, he hopes to become what he called “a professional backpacker.”
He’s looking at schools that have an “environmental engineering” degree and is particularly interested in Northland College in Ashland, Wisc., a place where he said acres of land are donated for outdoor research.