Let’s say that again. More than $12 million was raised by our peers for the Four Diamonds Fund — for kids who have cancer.
That’s an incredible achievement, and another year with a record-breaking total is truly a testament to the efforts of the more than 15,000 Penn State students who come together each year that so much money will be going to a good cause. Each year when a total seems unbeatable, records from past years are shattered because the dance marathon continues to grow.
The hope remains that every cent raised toward THON, in one way or another, helps to alleviate the suffering of those affected by pediatric cancer — and that, ultimately, we might see a day when a cure is found and no family has to suffer because of a pediatric cancer diagnosis.
Still, THON is so much more than the numbers. It’s not about the millions of dollars raised. It’s not about the number of hours students stand each February or the number of people who turn out to support the annual event in the Bryce Jordan Center.
THON isn’t about how much money each organization or the university as a whole raises. It’s about a collective effort that can inspire the community, possibly even the world, to also do good work for those who are in need.
THON is, more than anything, about giving the children involved a chance to just be kids. THON is about all the families who don’t have to worry about doctor appointments or medical bills for the whole weekend. THON is about giving those affected by pediatric cancer time to just enjoy themselves.
The moments that resonate most from THON weekend are the moments when it’s about just that: the kids. Few things are as inspiring as the pride in a six-year-old’s face as she sings her heart out on stage to an audience of cheering college students or the joy of another child as he wraps his arms around a friendly Nittany Lion mascot.
As THON continues to grow, those involved should make sure the focus always stays true to the organization’s often- repeated slogan: “For the Kids.”
From the music selection to the lineup of events to the wardrobe choices of those spending the weekend in the BJC stands, students involved should make sure the kids are genuinely at the heart of every aspect of the event.
So many THON stories are inspiring, and any opportunity to hear from Four Diamonds Family members throughout the weekend provides much-appreciate perspective to those in attendance. While there’s merit to keeping spirits light most of the weekend and dedicating one hour to a reminder of the serious impact of pediatric cancer and those lost, there’s no reason elements of Family Hour could not be expanded to occupy the entire weekend.
THON organizers should find ways to incorporate more opportunities for Four Diamonds Families to share their stories — their stories wouldn’t need to focus on their experiences with cancer, but it would be great if every family was given a designated opportunity to talk for a few minutes.
To build upon its mission, THON should take every opportunity it can to remember the “kids” at the heart of “FTK.”