Penn State THON can be a very emotional and strenuous time for the dancers who have to stand for all 46 hours. Still, that doesn't stop some dancers from choosing to do it again the next year.
Sarafina Valenti danced in 2018 and is currently dancing in THON 2019. A varsity soccer player, she danced for the Student Athletic Advisory Board.
Charlie Shuman, a former football player, also danced for the Student Athletic Advisory Board for two years in a row. A 5th-year senior who graduated in May 2018, with a degree in kinesiology, Shuman (senior-management organization and leadership) danced in THON 2017 and THON 2018.
“THON is part of why I came to Penn State ultimately,” Shuman said, also stating that football played a huge role in his decision as well.
Valenti’s (junior-security risk analysis) interest in becoming a dancer was sparked when some of her teammates danced during her freshman year, ultimately leading to her becoming a dancer as a sophomore. Then, in her junior year, there was a dancer spot open and she decided to take it.
For Shuman, dancing a second time was “a no brainer” after his first experience.
Even though Shuman is not a dancer this year, he is still heavily involved with the Student Athlete Advisory Board. He said it’s weird being able to come and go as he pleases this year, compared to dancers who can’t leave the Bryce Jordan Center.
Shuman said he has experiences and memories from dancing both years that he and the other dancers for the Student Athlete Advisory Board still talk about and reminisce about today.
Shuman said the parts of THON that always stick out to him are the Final Four hours and when the dancers can finally sit, as well as being with the Four Diamonds families and the other dancers.
Valenti noted that some of her favorite memories are actually at the beginning of THON, like walking through the human tunnel and standing for the first time at the beginning of the weekend.
“As soon as you stand up you hug your best friends and just see their faces light up,” Valenti said. “I think that's a huge moment and I’ll remember that forever.”
She said her previous THON dancing experience has prepared her in terms of knowing what to pack, and knowing the importance of stretching and staying hydrated.
“I was able to help my fellow dancers [as well],” Valenti said. “They were asking me a bunch of questions and I was able to help, so they were really grateful.”
While Valenti has enjoyed her THON experiences thus far, she does not think she will return as a dancer for her senior year.
Rather, she would prefer to join a committee or potentially be a Dancer Relations Committee Member.
Valenti and Shuman both encouraged others who may be interested in dancing to do so, and hopes they will “soak up every moment.”
“If you have the opportunity [to dance], take it,” Shuman said. “It's a once in a lifetime opportunity you don't want to miss out on.”
Valenti said dancing is the “whole experience” of THON, and it takes becoming a dancer to see everything that actually goes on within the weekend-long event.
Shuman said he learned a lot about himself through dancing, and now as someone that does more behind-the-scenes work with the Student Athletic Advisory Board, he has a newfound respect for all that goes into it.
“THON is Penn State and Penn State is THON - It’s just what Penn State students are and what what we do,” Shuman said, explaining that it’s hard for him to put the significance of THON to Penn State students into words. “It’s part of our culture.”