Cameras for ABC World News with Diane Sawyer spent part of THON weekend following the “electric smile” of 13-year old Brittany Wagner, the Penn State water polo team’s THON child, for a segment to air tonight at 6:30 p.m. on ABC, THON Fundraising Chair for the water polo team Allison Lederer said.
Lederer (senior-meteorology) said she is one of two of the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon dancers for the water polo team that were interviewed throughout the weekend by the crew of ABC World News.
Lederer and fellow water polo team THON Fundraising Chair Ryan Cusack danced in this past weekend’s dance marathon, working to raise funds for the team’s contribution of $56,418.63 to the total that raised more than $13.34 million for the Four Diamonds Fund this year.
Two other team members and THON family relations chairs that were interviewed for the segment were Kevin McClure and Dena Feinberg , who Cusack (senior-kinesiology) said are very close with the Wagner family.
McClure (junior-biology) said he found out about the interviews from an email he received the Thursday before THON from ABC World News Producer Catherine Cole , who confirmed the interview is tonight via email.
From the moment he found out, he said he was excited to participate in the interviews.
“It’s good to get that representation, because we’re all so passionate about THON,” McClure said. “It’s cool that we get to be seen for how much we’ve done.”
Lederer said though she isn’t sure of the exact reason why Wagner’s story was chosen by ABC World News. She said she thinks Wagner’s personality played a key role in why the cameras continued to follow her.
“She was just always being really funny and really quirky and entertaining to watch,” Lederer said.
Cusack said Wagner is very well-spoken and mature for her age, which is one reason why she may have been chosen to participate in the interviews.
Wagner, who is from Shillington, was diagnosed with lymphoma in May 2012 and has been the THON child for the water polo team for the last two years.
Though Wagner spent much of the weekend on crutches or in a wheelchair due to the chemotherapy weakening her ankles, Lederer said Wagner really enjoyed herself.
Cusack said the series of interviews became more and more emotional for the dancers as the weekend progressed, especially during the final four hours.
Cusack said it became difficult to answer the interviews, adding he had trouble remembering one portion of the dance marathon and the interviews that took place during that time.
Though completing the interviews became more challenging, Cusack said he understands why they were important.
“They were just trying to get the perspective of what your body goes through those 46 hours,” Cusack said.