THON, hug

Cassandra Clayton (senior-mechanical engineering), Isabelle Sares McCabe (senior-human-centered design and development) and Sarah Vargas (junior-communication sciences and disorders) hug during the 51st THON on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023 in University Park, Pa.

If one were to look around the Bryce Jordan Center during THON Weekend 2023, they would likely see a sea of students in the stands and on the floor.

Colette Cocco said she’s attending THON to support her daughter, Katie, who is a senior dancing at THON 2023.

“It’s a huge milestone — it will create great memories for her,” Colette said.

Colette said she’s excited because this is her first time attending THON and said she’s “very impressed” with the enthusiasm, entertainment and excitement.

“To see college students this excited at 7 a.m. is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Colette said.

Colette said her daughter has talked a lot about the final four hours and how moving it is to hear the families talk about their journeys with pediatric cancer. Because of this, Colette said she's most looking forward to experiencing the final four hours with her daughter.

“I’m looking forward to learning more about the meaning behind [THON],” Colette said.

Andrea Gempp said she also has a daughter dancing at THON, which is the primary reason she decided to attend the event.

Gempp said it's her first time attending THON.

“The student spirit is amazing,” Gempp said. “The fact that this is all run and organized by students is pretty impressive.”

Gempp described the spirit the atmosphere of THON creates as “unbelievable.”

“It’s for such a great cause,” Gempp said. “It’s very touching.”

She said she hopes her daughter will be comfortable and enjoy the moment while also staying safe.

“Having people there to support you in hard times really means a lot,” Gempp said. “So I think that’s what all these kids are doing.”

Dawn Doherty is a mother of two students involved with THON. Her daughter, Bridget, is a THON 2023 dancer for the Blue & White Society, while her son is a Rules and Regulations committee member.

Dawn said this is her first time at THON.

“It’s amazing,” Dawn said. “We’re having a blast.”

She said her favorite part of THON is the Line Dance.

“The part where everyone does the cheer together just made me cry,” Dawn said.

Holly Sanzo said her daughter, Jenna, is a senior dancing in THON for special interest organization Pillar.

Holly said as a parent, she enjoys “seeing the children here.” It's Holly’s first time attending THON.

As a nurse, Holly said she thinks it’s nice to see the next generation realizing the importance of helping kids get healthy.

She said she enjoys “seeing the kids interacting with the students.”

Jim Knapp said he's attending THON to support his daughter, Claudia, who is an alumni dancer. Jim said his daughter was a virtual dancer during the coronavirus pandemic, but this year is her first time being a dancer on the floor in the BJC.

Jim said his favorite part of THON 2023 is being able to support his daughter and the purpose behind the event.

Jim said he respects his daughter’s “compassion,” and he’s happy for her.

Dana Dismukes said she’s also attending THON to support her daughter, Bailey, who is a dancer with Delta Phi Epsilon.

As an alumna, Dana said she's no stranger to THON.

“I went every year when I was in school,” Dana said.

Dana was involved through her sorority and by being a part of the Dancer Relations Committee when she was a student at Penn State. She got her daughter involved at a young age by taking her to THON events while she was growing up.

Dana said her daughter came to Penn State “wanting to do THON,” and she's "proud" of her for carrying on the family legacy of involvement in THON.

She said THON has grown a lot since she was involved.

Dana said THON is unlike any other student philanthropy in the country.

She said she thinks it’s amazing THON is student-run, describing it as “something special” at Penn State.

Dana’s noticed when talking about THON with others, it’s recognized how “above and beyond” THON is compared to other student-run philanthropies.

Dana said the best part of her weekend was spending it with her daughter and supporting her on the floor.

“I was able to go in and help her and get her hyped up.”


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