A Chat with Some Indie Dancers

2435020442_091b9315afTis’ the eve of THON and it’s safe to say the dancers are beginning their final preparations for the 46-hour event.  At 4pm this afternoon they will be ushered through morale’s human tunnel into the BJC, where they will stand to raise awareness and money for the plight of pediatric cancer. Many of these dancers are sponsored by their respective fraternities, sororities, or various organizations.

However for those “independent dancers”, a minority of THON’s 700 some dancers, this moment represents the culmination of a less traditional journey onto the BJC floor. Even though they may not have a big section cheering them on all weekend from the stands, these dancers are some of the many “unsung” heroes of THON.  In fact, until two weeks ago for many of these independent pairs, dancing was a mere outside chance…literally. Independent dancing is based on a lottery system.

An independent dancer needs to raise $2,200 for one lottery ticket, and then each $500 they raise after that gets them an additional lottery ticket. About 40 of the 100 independent dancers who met the criteria were selected.

I hung out with a pair of independent dancers, Han Ma and Mark McGinley, as they were busy tweaking some gel insoles to fit their shoes on Thursday night. Here’s what they had to say:

How much money did you guys raise?
Han: We raised around $4700 just by canning, THONvelops, online donations, stuff like that
Mark: We found out that we actually got in about two weeks ago at like 1 in the morning, Hahn called me going nuts

Read the rest after the jump.

What made you guys want to do this?
Han:  One of my friend’s daughters, Jada-Lynn Feliciano, is a THON-child sponsored by Tapestry. I’d say just knowing her and the great cause in general. I’ve really wanted to get involved in Thon before but I haven’t had the chance.
Mark: I got to know a family through Lion Scouts. They were pretty amazing and inspiring. Once I got a sense of this side of THON and what it’s really about I really wanted to get more involved in it. Hahn and I have known each other since freshman year and we figured we’d go for it.

What are you guys looking forward to? Are you worried about anything?
Han: I’m pretty nervous, especially as it just gets closer and closer. I know as it goes on the hours are going to get longer and longer. But I really just want to beat the total from last year when the end of the weekend comes. It’s the largest student philanthropy in the world and I want to see it keep growing.
Mark:  I’m looking forward to family hour. The family I got to know through Lion Scouts is going to be speaking, it should be pretty special. I’m nervous too though. From talking to dancers from other years I’m really worried about the late night hours when the stands are empty. It takes a lot of the energy out of the building.

Did you get to meet with your moralers?
Han: Yea mine’s real down to earth, I think we will be able to relate. They have both done moral before so they know what they are doing.

You guys bringing anything special with you?
Han: I think I’m gonna go buy a Tamagotchi tomorrow
Mark: Hahn you’re such a typical Asian
Han:  {laughs} Yea I’ll bring my rice and wok too
Mark: I’m just going to bring a book and a crossword book or something like that

What songs did you guys request
Mark:  When We Were Young by The Killers and My Old School by Steely Dan
Han: All my life- K-Ci and Jojo and Livin’ on a Prayer- Bon Jovi…I had to.

…Make sure to make you’re way out to THON this weekend even if you aren’t directly involved. Dance, sing, cheer, clap, skip, play, learn the line dance, start a wave, get a chant going!  It’s a long and draining weekend for the dancers and they can always use some of their fellow Penn Staters’ energy and enthusiasm to keep them going. So it goes, energy can never be created or destroyed, just transferred (old proverb of mine)… if nothing else that’s what you can offer THON this weekend. Dream forward folks.

All things aside, no matter who you are or what your association may be, this THON weekend is an opportunity for the entire campus of Penn State to come together in support of our fellow dancers and of course for the kids!

Lastly there goes an old saying, or maybe its law of physics, energy can never be created nor destroyed, it can only be transferred.  It’s a long weekend for the dancers, so make an effort to get out this weekend.

[Picture courtesy of Flickr’s paxsarah.]

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