The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance MaraTHON — more commonly referred to as THON, is the most ubiquitous event on campus and has been in existence since 1973. It currently benefits the Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Children’s Hospital, but earlier marathons raised money for various charitable endeavors, ranging from the American Heart Association to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. THON has raised more than $137,000,000 since its inception.
Running such a large organization takes a lot of manpower. There are fourteen committees — each with an overall chairperson and about 20 captains — that are responsible for all facets of THON, from fundraising to logistics. In total, there are about 15,000 volunteers that make sure the event and everything leading up to it go as smoothly as possible.
In addition to committees, student organizations, both Greek and independent, raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund through canning and other means. There are multiple canning weekends and other fundraising opportunities throughout the school year. It is from these organizations that the majority of the THON dancers are drawn. In 2016, there were 708 dancers, only a handful of which were unaffiliated with any organization.
THON is not limited to THON Weekend, which took place on February 19-21, 2016 in the Bryce Jordan Center. In the leadup to the Dance Marathon, THON organizes events like the THON 5K, the THON Family Carnival, THON Awareness Week and more.