Family Relations Director Brittany Robbins brought the BJC together for Family Hour during the Final Four. This part of THON is unlike any other experience throughout the weekend — bringing the entire arena together for an emotional moment with the Four Diamonds families in the building to share their stories.
“The stories you hear in the next hour will motivate you to keep dancing,” Robbins said.
Four Diamonds co-founder Charles Millard came on to the stage at the Bryce Jordan Center to welcome all of the Four Diamonds families present as they were introduced by Robbins and walked across the stage to hug Millard.
The Connor Rowan Family was the first to speak on stage and told the story of Connor’s diagnosis that started with just a stomach ache before a few trips to the ER confirmed the family’s worst concern — liver cancer. “Courageous Connor” went into surgery the very next day after the diagnosis, and in recovery, was introduced to the Four Diamonds.
“My husband was able to take off from work to be with the boys. Because of you guys, we didn’t go bankrupt,” Connor’s Mom said.
Through the process of chemo and clinic visits, Connor regained his lovable personality over time — finishing treatments in March of 2015. As of today, Connor is 22 months in remission.
Marcus Josey was next on the stage to speak with his family behind him. Marcus, currently a freshman at Gettysburg College, told the story of the day at school he was sent to the guidance counselor with news that he was in final recruitment from Harvard’s football team.
That same day, he went to a school assembly about leukemia. Upon hearing the symptoms, Marcus realized they matched up with the strange symptoms he had been suffering from in the previous few weeks. His blood-work confirmed what he had feared — he had leukemia. He’s been treated since that day, and will continue to be treated until 2018.
Marcus spoke of all the people he’s had the chance to meet because of leukemia, something he considers a blessing. Two young kids he’s had the chance to get to know, Hope and Elliot, his doctors that have inspired him to want to get into the field of pediatrics, and all of those involved with THON.
After Marcus spoke, Robbins returned to the stage to introduce the “Where Are They Now” video — a montage on all of the screens in the BJC of different Four Diamonds kids that have come through the program and are now in remission or cancer free, showing where life has taken them with a few Penn State students and even a current dancer listed.
The video illustrates best just how many lives the Four Diamonds has impacted over the course of all these years.
The Savion Atterberry Family was the final family to come on stage to tell the legacy of their “sweet boy.”
Different members of the family took the mic to tell about different pieces of Savion’s life and the kind of boy he was. Through the various cancer treatments, even when the fight got harder and harder, he was willing to put a smile on his face and fight forward.
“God gave Savion to all of us, to know the warriors we could be,” Savion’s Mom said. “Savion finished his fight well, went home, and got his wings.”
Through an emotional tale of Savion’s life, Savion’s mother expressed how proud and how much love she has for her son — a fighter that won and “is on a playground up in heaven.”
Another video was played following the Atterberry family’s time on stage. Unfortunately, this one was for the Four Diamonds kids that were taken far too soon. With the entire BJC wrapping their arms around the shoulders of those next to them, swaying back and forth, the crowd watched on in remembrance of these brave children.
The moments of Family Hour provide an important reminder of the true importance of THON and the Four Diamonds Fund after an incredibly hectic weekend.