On the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center, THON children and their families shoot their water guns, play games, dance and play, but behind the scenes they took solace in the more relaxed family lounges.
Organizers of the 2013 Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon provided two of these safe havens for THON families — one in the South Annex, accessible on the ground floor, and another in a quieter upstairs location, Family Relations Captain Lauren Hoyt said.
The family lounges were inaccessible to THON organization members to allow the families to take a break from the chaotic excitement their Penn State friends had to offer on the floor.
“A lot of them are still in treatment and just want a break,” Hoyt (junior-public relations) said.
In the South Annex, the OPPerations Committee divided the room into separate areas for different age groups, while decorating the room to appeal to the kids, Hoyt said.
In the teen-focused area, video games including a Wii were accessible. In other areas, kids could get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the new snack bar, play cards or kick back on the couches.
The room also held various activities throughout the day including a parent information session for parents that wished to take a break and learn about THON, she said.
Though the lounges were only accessible to a limited group of people, all different kinds of committee members worked to make the South Annex family lounge possible — from the hospitality committee providing food to the OPPerations committee setting up the decorations and various stations, she said. The rules and regulations committee also worked to make sure the room was safe and that the families had what they needed.
In an even milder environment, the upstairs family lounge served as a haven where families could get away from the rush of the floor and the busy activities of the downstairs lounge, Hoyt said. THON organizers developed this lounge into an even more relaxing area with smaller toys for young children, she said.
Hoyt said families would go back and forth between the lounges and floor as their THON organizations and dancers would often "wear them down."
Another part of the family-oriented behind the scenes of THON was the Inspiration Wall, which included pictures and information from many of the THON children.
Family relations captains put these posters together with the permission and help of the families, though not all families opted to have posters of their child, she said.
Christina Hefferon and Lauren Riley, who raised money to be independent dancers this year but were not selected to dance, were admiring the wall during their 12-hour visit to the floor Saturday morning.
Hefferon (senior-biobehavioral health) said the wall was there to remind dancers why they're dancing — for the kids.
“It makes it more real,” Riley (senior-finance) said.