You may have noticed something missing from this year’s pre-THON festivities: The Hope Express, a 135-mile run from Hershey Medical Center to the BJC before THON, announced in July that THON 2016 was its last.
As a “replacement” for Hope Express, THON’s Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group (DMAIG) started Hope From Coast 2 Coast, a virtual run during the week leading up to THON where participants could choose to run one of four distances named after the Four Diamonds. The Courage Team is to run or walk a mile, the Honesty Team is to run a 5k, the Strength Team is to run 46 miles (for 46 hours), and the Wisdom Team is to run 135 miles (completed as a team).
“We had a Facebook group as well, where people were posting pictures of their runs, sharing stories about why they were running,” DMAIG Vice President Matt Huber said. “It was really powerful.”
This year’s event was a great success for DMAIG, spearheaded by Hope From Coast 2 Coast Director Darla Zacchin. More than 60 runners participated in the event, including a team of past THON directors and a team from Washington state. Altogether, the event raised more than $11,000 for THON.
“We’re really excited about the future of the event, especially with a full year of planning ahead of us as well as one event under our belts,” Huber said. “It’s only the beginning. THON alumni are all over the world, so we feel like having a virtual event like this can only help to keep us all connected in a cause we’re deeply passionate about.”