For Charles Millard, THON has shaped his entire life.
Millard, the co-founder of the Four Diamonds Fund, is attending his 36th Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
“I view THON as a work in progress and a living being,” Millard said in a press conference four hours before THON's kick-off at 6 p.m. “Everything that happens during THON is a special event. It’s a living, rolling thing. It’s exciting to be a part of it.”
Susan Graney, director of the Four Diamonds Fund, said THON has raised $89 million total, and that the money raised is split between medical bills and research. Graney said 20 percent of the funds go toward the medical bills of families who have kids with pediatric cancer.
“They have that worry removed from the other worries they have,” Graney said. “It’s a relief they don’t have to be burdened with medical bills.”
Graney said the other 70 to 80 percent is put toward cancer research, which she said will “ultimately” lead to finding a cure.
Graney said the bond the Four Diamonds Fund has with Penn State kids shows how compassionate, caring and inspiring THON is.
Public Relations Overall Cat Powers said this is her last THON as an undergraduate student, and that given the chance, she would do it all over again.
“THON is an incredible experience and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Powers (senior-public relations) said.
Powers said she is excited to start the weekend, and that committees have been working hard all morning to set up for the weekend.
Will Martin, THON overall chairperson, said that THON has been an experience that is changing his life.
“I’ve had the opportunity to see what makes THON come together,” Martin (senior-communications sciences and discorders) said. “It’s a chance for [the kids] to be a kid again. That’s what THON is all about.”
For Millard, THON is “one of a kind” in the world. He said THON helps kids who suffer from pediatric cancer. He recalled one instance where a child who lost his battle with cancer had requested to be buried in his THON t-shirt.
Millard said THON serves as a “pinnacle” for these kids.
“To be here and involved is the highlight of my life,” Millard said.