THON 2020, celebration of life

A dancer gets emotional watching the celebration of life video during the final four hours of Penn State THON at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.

With THON being held virtually for the first time, the freshmen class came into the weekend with different expectations.

Although THON was different, many freshmen were still motivated to get involved with the organization right away.

Hailey Paolercio, who is a leader in the Special Events Committee, said THON was a huge part of her decision to come to Penn State.

“I’ve always had a passion for giving back and helping others, and I knew I wanted to take that passion to college with me, and Penn State gave me this opportunity," Paolercio (freshman-biobehavioral health) said.

Paolercio said THON means everything to her, and although she couldn’t get the real THON experience, she was still able to understand the feeling THON brings to many people.

“My favorite moment of this weekend was waking up this morning knowing it was the Final Four," Paolercio said. “I’m in love with THON, and I’ve always admired seeing the number of dollars we have raised at the end. It truly felt like a holiday."

On top of getting involved with THON right away, Paolercio said she gained lifelong friendships because of THON.

“We all have a passion for something so huge, and it really brought us all together to beat cancer — for the kids always," Paolercio said.

Another freshman who got involved with THON as soon as possible is Olivia Manfredo. She is an OPPerations Committe member.

“My first THON experience has definitely been unconventional, but nonetheless a spectacular and life-changing event to be a part of," Manfredo (freshman-broadcast journalism) said.

Manfredo said she was able to meet with her committee in person during scheduled team bonding events throughout the weekend.

“It was amazing being able to watch the THON livestream with them, to be in a room with empowering individuals [who are] passionate about making a difference in the world, especially raising awareness for childhood cancer," Manfredo said.

Manfredo said though her first THON wasn't in the Bryce Jordan Center, her experience was fun and she's grateful.

“It made me smile to know I was part of something bigger than myself, with my captain and committee members around me who are so passionate about enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer," Manfredo said.

Additionally, Lina Pedrelli joined 46 Live this year to help run its social media accounts.

“I thought my first THON experience was amazing," Pedrelli (freshman-telecommunications) said. “I am beyond grateful I got to go to the BJC [to] see how things were run."

For Pedrelli, it was easy to get involved with THON because she joined 46 Live at the beginning of the fall.

Pedrelli said it was disappointing to hear about everything that usually happens during THON weekend that was unable to happen this year.

“My absolute favorite moment this weekend was watching Visions to None perform," Pedrelli said. “I thought they were a great band and played some awesome songs, I also haven’t been to a concert in over a year, and I love concerts, so it felt like I was at one."

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