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We Are…The Dancers (The Conclusion)

The THON dancers, since 1973, have helped raise approximately $61 million (plus this year’s total) to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

But, prior to Friday afternoon, I’ll admit I did not know too much about THON. I knew that there were dancers that participated in THON and I knew that they had to remain awake for the whole weekend. But with the help of THON dancer Matt Swingle and the rest of the THON volunteers, I learned everything I needed to know.

When the dancers first step on to the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center, they are essentially partaking in an embodiment of the struggle that the Four Diamond Families go through each and every day. The dancers battle exhaustion every minute just to make it to the next hour, just as each cancer patient fights each day to see the next. For both, at times, to quit would appear to be the most appealing road to take. But they won’t quit. It’s all or nothing.

And that’s why the dancers do it. That’s why the canners stand on street corners, often in the pouring rain or freezing cold. They do it to try, in the best way that they can, to experience the everyday battle that the Four Diamonds children go through every day. They do it not just to raise money, but to show them that they care. They care so much that they are willing to put their bodies through immense physical and mental strain just to prove it.

This year, that empathy has yielded almost 8 million dollars for children with cancer. But raising that kind of money doesn’t come cheap. It must be worked for. It must be fought for. It must be danced for.

Thank you to all the THON dancers, the committees, the organizations, and everyone involved with making this year’s THON the best ever. And a special thanks to Matt Swingle for letting me stalk him throughout the weekend.

About the Author

Tom Kent

I was born in Virginia Beach, raised in Westfield, NJ, went to college at Penn State, moved to Miami, FL. Peruvian on mom's side and English on my Dad's. I'm a Journalism major and Political Science minor. I do not currently own any reptiles.


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