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Dancer Dan: Wrapping Up My Greatest Weekend

I sat at home Friday afternoon before heading to the Bryce Jordan Center thinking about what I would experience for the next two days. I knew it would be something I never forgot, something that I would take with me for the rest of my life, no matter how old I got. When I returned to my couch on Sunday evening, I realized that I didn’t dream big enough.

THON 2011 is imprinted in my mind for eternity, a tattoo that I will never be able to wash away with any other memory. Not only did we break records, but we broke expectations. It is expected that State College and the Penn State community knows of THON, but Jimmy Fallon?!? Jozy Altidore?!? We’ve officially become a force to be reckoned with throughout the nation.

I’m personally glad of something else that I broke. And that was the opaque impression of THON that fellow editor Marcus Correll had of THON. Marcus had never attended a THON before this year, but he soon caught the magic of the event. He brought me tons of gifts all weekend and was never short on inspiration whether it be by his words or his actions. Marcus was Moraler 1B for me this weekend and I cannot thank him enough for being there.

Whoever came down to interview me this weekend kept asking what my favorite part was and I could never give them an answer. That was because no one had interviewed me before the final four hours.

First a side note: I did not receive a massage or a rub-down or icing of any kind until I grabbed a foot massage in the back around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. My feet felt amazing right afterwards and I was ready to take on those final four hours.

Back to the story: Family Hour began at Hour 41 this year. Like I said, it should be a graduation requirement. That room is so filled with emotion, it’s indescribable. It was also great to get an implied shout-out from the Rupp family for my “Why Do I THON?” post. Having Michael there with us during the event and seeing Troy in the video remembering past THON children who had passed on made the moment much more special.

After Family Hour, I hurriedly wrote my final update post because Go Go Gadjet was getting ready to take the stage. Some people have mixed feelings on the musical talents of Go Go, but there is no doubt that they were the perfect choice to pump up the 16,000+ that made it for Sunday’s finale. I was on the floor in front of my organization jumping up and down like I had just gotten into the Bryce Jordan Center, acting like a crazy man and letting everything hang out. Those final four hours might have been the greatest time of my life and were definitely my favorite part of the weekend.

Then the totals came. As they listed the top five general fundraisers, I knew that my organization would be near the top. As they read through SAAB and Women in Business, I was waiting for a jump for some organization to be near us in the amount of money we raised, but it never happens. Number one was announced, and my organization, the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, was announced to have raised $85,955.02, almost $20K more than any other group in our category. Our overall chair, Simone Gleicher began re-enacting my tear-filled performance at Dancer Mail and we celebrated for a minute, knowing that a bigger announcement was on the way.

Before the final total was announced, I had guessed that we would surpass last year’s total and be somewhere in the eight-million dollar range. When they started to lift the boards, I was fully expecting to see an “8” on that final board. I was left speechless when a “9” was there instead. It was such a ridiculous number to see up on the stage! Like I saw a friend write after that fact, we saw 9,563,016.02 reasons why the recession is not love-proof.

I want to thank everyone, my friends, my family, spectators, random people on Twitter who started following me and offered kind words, the Onward State crew, EVERYONE for supporting me this weekend. You have no clue on the profound impact you had on me. And looking in the big picture, I want to thank everyone who has even had the smallest part to do with THON. You should be proud of everything that was accomplished over the past year.

One day we will dance in celebration, until then we WILL ENDLESSLY CONTINUE to dance for a cure.

About the Author

Dan Vecellio

Dan is a graduate student in meteorology, hailing from Bradford, Pennsylvania. His interests include sports, Penn State and commons cheesesteaks. Feel free to contact me through my email or follow me on Twitter.

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