For countless THON volunteers, having the chance to dance for those 46 hours at all would be a dream come true. When identical twins Claire and Jaclyn Levy made it their goal to dance in THON 2017, they never thought they’d also have the opportunity to do it side by side.
The Levy twins are seniors on Penn State’s Club Gymnastics team. When they arrived on campus, they got involved in both gymnastics and THON their freshman year. Claire was the team’s Family Relations Chair her sophomore year and its THON Chair junior year. Jaclyn was a member of THON’s OPPerations Committee when she was a sophomore. Since the beginning of their careers at Penn State, they’ve done their share to help Club Gymnastics fundraise FTK and organize other THON-related events. But when deciding which college to attend, neither twin planned on navigating the college process together.
“We actually weren’t planning on going to the same college,” Claire said. “But we both got accepted here and decided it would be a great university for both of us to attend.”
And ever since then, going to school as siblings has been one of the best parts of the twins’ college experience. From learning how to navigate campus together to joining the same club sport, neither twin could ask for a better partner in crime. Their majors and career goals are different, but Club Gymnastics allows the sisters to spend a lot of time together outside the classroom.
“It’s so much fun going to school with Jaclyn,” Claire said. “It was very comforting freshman year having someone who I was so close with to help get adjusted to college. It’s nice that we have the same friend group and do the same types of activities, but we also have a lot of different things we’re involved in.”
Both twins can agree on one thing — one of the best parts of Club Gymnastics is the organization’s heavy involvement with THON. In fact, the sport played a key role in introducing the twins to the cause.
“I think the aspect of Club Gymnastics that has impacted me the most is my experiences in relation to THON,” Jaclyn said. “I immediately became involved in canning trips and fundraisers freshman year in order to become involved in THON, and also attended my first THON Weekend that year.”
Since joining the team, the Levy twins have also spent much of their time building a close relationship with the Damesheks — the team’s THON family. THON child Emilia Dameshek passed away last May, but the Levys are forever grateful for the time they got to spend with her. Dameshek’s contagious spirit inspired both twins to deepen their relationship with THON and pursue the goal of dancing this year.
“She was so strong and positive no matter what the circumstances were, which I always admired in her and [I] was inspired by her courage,” Claire said. “Unfortunately, she lost her battle this past summer at 12 years old. I want to dance for her and for her family and show them how grateful I am to have been able to make their time during Emilia’s treatments a little bit better and easier.”
When the twins found out they would be dancing alongside one another, they were ecstatic. The Levys hope to continue Dameshek’s legacy of strength, passion, and hope when they stand for 46 hours this February. For now, their main goal is to stay healthy and prepare themselves for the job that lies ahead. Luckily, the sisters are able to prepare together before the big weekend finally arrives.
“We’re motivating each other to work out as much as we can to get back into shape, as well as taking vitamins and other supplements to stay as healthy as possible,” Jaclyn said. “We are also working together to make partnered t-shirts and outfits for THON Weekend.”
The twins are especially looking forward to bonding with the children, families, and other dancers who plan to take the floor this February. Their parents also plan to visit the floor during THON, and it will be the first time they get to witness the event for themselves. Though the task of standing for 46 hours is daunting to anyone, the twins couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity.
“We have gone through so much together since freshman year, and there is no one else I would rather represent Club Gymnastics and the Damesheks with,” Jaclyn said.