Why We THON: The Onward State Dancers
This weekend, Onward State’s own Ally Greer and John Tecce will join over 700 other dancers, with the support of over 350 student organizations and thousands of other students and supporters, in standing and staying awake for 46 straight hours to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund. Here’s why they participate in THON and what will motivate them this weekend.
A former THON dancer compared the experience to a sample of what being a pediatric cancer patient is really like. Dancers receive encouragement and visits from their friends and family much in the same way that a child with cancer does. Moralers represent the doctors who know exactly how to make you feel better when you’re struggling, because, like doctors, they’re trained to to just that. Ice baths and massages represent chemo and radition treatment to help fight the cancer. Dancers receive plenty of food, but usually don’t want to eat, like a child following chemo treatments. Then, when THON concludes and the total is announced, the euphoria a dancer experiences represents the feeling of being cancer-free.
Dancing in THON marks a dream come true for us, but our task pales in comparison to what the Four Diamonds kids and families have to go through each and every day as they battle this terrible disease. The kids that we will stand awake and proud for have fought battles that we cannot dream of facing at any point in our lives, let alone as children. We will dance for the kids who fight every day to have a carefree childhood like every child should. We will dance for the kids who were not given a chance to live out their dreams because of this terrible disease, and for those who proudly do so proving that cancer can be beat.
THON 2012’s theme is “Brighten Every Journey,” which we have worked for months to do for the Four Diamonds kids and families. Now, we will stand For The Kids and For The Cure with hopes that, someday, no Penn State student will have to THON, and no child will have to face what these amazing kids have faced.
I am beyond thrilled to be representing my organization, Nittany Nation, as a THON 2012 dancer. I am dedicating all 46 hours of THON to my uncle, Mark Christopher Tecce, who passed away at age six from neuroblastoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer. I never met my Uncle Mark, but I will dance in his memory. When I think of the families who benefit from THON, I think of my grandparents, my dad, and my aunts. I feel a personal connection to THON’s mission because of them, and I THON so that someday families like my dad’s won’t have to deal with such tragic circumstances.
I will also dance for the kids who have made an impact in my life so that they will never have to face the threat of cancer. I have watched my seven younger cousins grow up before my eyes. I spent three summers as a camp counselor, and many of the kids that I worked with still come to mind often. I realize that any of these kids could just as easily be in the same position as the Four Diamonds children that I will spend THON weekend with.
I have millions of amazing memories from my time at Penn State, but none stand out to me the most than the first time I walked into THON. I had never been to THON before 2009, my freshman year. I had no idea what to expect; there was no way I could have. As long as I live, I will never forget the moment just before 6 p.m. when everyone counted backwards from 10 to 1 and all of the dancers, committee members, and Four Diamonds Families stood. The lights came on as bright as ever, and “It’s a Beautiful Life” by Ace of Base blasted through the BJC. From that moment, I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of.
In the following years, I joined the Penn State Marketing Association and dedicated all of my time and energy into helping their THON division raise as much money as possible for the cause. This year I served as THON chair, working all year long towards the honor that I have dreamed of for four years – dancing in THON.
There are many reasons why I THON. I THON for the future, I THON for all of the amazing children and their families who have been stricken with pediatric cancer, I THON for those who are still here and those who aren’t, I THON so that one day, no one will have to. I also THON for someone very close to my heart – my Grandma Carrie.
After over six very long years battling cancer with every ounce of her being, Grandma Carrie lost her fight in December of 2009. After seeing what my mom and uncle went through as her children, as well as experiencing it for myself as her granddaughter, I developed even stronger negative feelings towards cancer. I wanted to get rid of it. I did not want any family to have to go through what mine did. Cancer does not discriminate. It takes grandmas and grandpas, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. All I can promise is to do everything I can to try and change this.
This weekend, I will stand for 46 hours in hopes that one day, cancer will be a thing of the past. I could not be prouder to be a part of THON and can’t wait to spend this weekend with the people I love the most.
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About the Author
They’re in our city.
Sam Ficken’s winding football journey has taken him from Indiana to New York with several stops in between. Now, as a Jet, he’s finally settled down in a consistent role.
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