Penn State THON hosted its annual Family Carnival at the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility Sunday for student organizations and Four Diamonds families to connect by playing games and participating in various events throughout the day.

The event had music, karaoke, competitions, a luncheon and a pep rally.

THON captains organized the carnival, which included collaboration between various media and public relations departments as well as THON committees.

Nolan Marett, the THON public relations director, said around this time of the year things "really start to kick off."

“This is our last big event before THON weekend," Marett (senior-neuropsychology) said. "It’s a time for families to come and play games and interact with the committees that support them. This is a time for them to just relax and have fun."

Marett said his 26 THON captains worked "tirelessly" to produce graphic, video and written content to "uphold" the THON brand.

“I could not pull this off without them — they are incredible,” Marett said.

Christina Williams, a family programs coordinator, said she is able "to coordinate all the programs that help connect families and captains who are a part of THON" in order to invite families to the event. 

Williams (junior-management and information systems) said the families are able to apply to come.

"We send out forms through our contacts and newsletters," Williams said.

Williams said she is excited for the event to be back in person.

"This is something so new, fun and exciting, and it’s great to see something have such a major impact,” Williams said.

Each family gets paired with a student organization, such as the pre-professional education club that Maggie Lucas is involved in.

“I felt joining this [organization] was able to get me those connections with the families that you can't always get with a committee," Lucas (junior-early childhood education) said. "Making those connections is the best part."

Lucas said the atmosphere and the love at the event are "incredible."

"Having everyone together here and seeing the love is amazing," Lucas said.

Other organizations, such as Atlas and Eclipse, are solely based on raising money to benefit THON.

Andres Montero, a member of Eclipse, said being all back together again is "amazing."

“It’s crazy how much we have progressed, from looking back a year ago,” said Montero (junior-kinesiology).

Senior Allie Temple attended the event with Atlas.

“Being able to be in something bigger than yourself, and being here and able to connect with our families and build those relations warms my heart everyday,” Temple (senior-earth sciences and policy) said.

Similarly, Rachel Aber, media relations team member, said an event like the Family Carnival is a great way to connect with THON families and get them excited for THON.

"No matter virtual or online, everyone is very passionate about THON and spreading our mission, but there’s something about being in person here that gives it a whole new energy," Arber (junior-public relations) said.

Arber said it's hard to put into words how much THON means to her.

“It has defined my time at Penn State," Arber said. "It’s so important to give back and see the difference.”

Students like Jordan Hughes were also able to attend the carnival.

“THON to me is a chance to give a lot of people a lot of hope,” Hughes (senior-forensic science) said.

Penn State THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world that aims to provide emotional and financial support to Four Diamonds families who have been impacted by childhood cancer.

THON 2022's event theme will be "Spark Endless Light."

Marett said THON is his "favorite thing ever" and a light in his life, the many volunteers' lives and the families' lives.

"We would not be able to do what we do without our families’ support, and I can’t wait to continue being involved even after graduation and for the rest of my life.”

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