THON 2020, celebration

THON attendees celebrate the total reveal during Penn State THON at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.

Even as the largest student-run philanthropy, some out-of-state students don’t know what THON is before coming to Penn State.

Allison Russell is a Penn State student from San Diego, California. Before attending Penn State, Russell (senior-early childhood education) said she had no idea what THON was.

This year, she's dancing in THON.

"[THON] gave me my 'why' at Penn State and my purpose," Russell said. "It's definitely something I could not have seen my college experience without."

Russell's first experience with THON was as a freshman when she and her friends were spectators.

"I immediately regretted not getting involved earlier," Russell said.

So, Russell joined a Rules and Regulations Committee during her sophomore year.

“[My first THON] was more of a feeling than something to express," Russell said.

Russell said she's spread the word of THON to people from her hometown through social media. She also reached out to businesses in San Diego to encourage fundraisers.



Corey Horrow is another dancer from California — from Manhattan Beach.

Unlike Russell, Horrow (senior-psychology) knew about THON before college, because her father is an alumnus. However, she said she learned more when she arrived in State College.

Horrow's first experience with THON was on the Merchandise Committee her freshman year. She was a Dancer Relations Committee member during her sophomore and junior years.

This year, Horrow is dancing independently with her roommate.

Horrow said she tells her THON story to her friends and family, and encourages them to donate. She said she thinks they don't fully understand the concept and commitment of THON.

"When I say ‘dance marathon,' they have no idea what I mean," Horrow said. "You really have to be in the BJC that weekend [to get it]."

Like Russell, Jacob Zeigler also knew little about THON before arriving at Penn State. He's from Fort Worth, Texas and is also part of an independent dancer couple.

"Once I figured out what THON was, I instantly fell in love with it," Zeigler (junior-mechanical engineering) said.

Zeigler was a spectator during THON his freshman year. He described his first experience with THON weekend as "super exciting" and "life changing."

Zeigler said he told friends at home about THON. He described THON as a "never-ending effort” and said his friends were surprised by the effort that goes into THON.

"I just love being able to know that I'm making a difference in people's lives.”



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Oliver Ferguson is an administration and Greek life/THON reporter for The Daily Collegian. He is a freshman studying political science.