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First Time THONners Tell Their Story

As a freshman, this is my first time at THON, and I cannot even begin to adequately put my thoughts into words. Upon entering the Bryce Jordan Center at four in the afternoon, a shiver shot up my spine, and the goosebumps that accompanied it have yet to leave. Unable to describe this one of a kind experience, I searched the BJC hoping that other first time THONners could do it for me.

Julian Lui, a freshman pledging Alpha Kappa Psi, was beaming in the stands when I decided to approach him. It was evident that Julian was enjoying himself from the giant blow up whale that he was flailing in the air, and when I asked him what he was feeling, he responded with “amazed.”

“There’s so much energy here,” Lui said. “When you’re canning and everything, every org is individual, it’s almost a competition. But then you come in here, and everything molds into one. I never expected that all of these people could come together like this.”

Ayda Superoglu, a junior from Omega Phi Alpha, was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to attend THON. After catching an unfortunate case of the flu her freshman year, and being abroad last year, Ayda was an eager first time THONner, and has been completely overwhelmed by the experience. She was mesmerized by the sea of color surrounding her, and could not believe that, after eight long hours, energy was still elating from her. Following an unlucky first two years in regards to THON, this is a precious opportunity for Superoglu, and she had little intention of leaving the BJC when her shift ended.

The most heartfelt first time THON experience, however, came from two teary-eyed freshmen in the stands. Anja Dietrich and Brynne Travis, both pledges of Alpha Kappa Psi, started out today like every other THON loving Penn Stater.

“We were so anxious while waiting in line,” Dietrich said. “You see pictures and videos, but this is truly a feeling that cannot be explained until you’ve experienced it.”

A few hours later, the girls’ nights took an unexpected turn upon hearing some of the most upsetting news that they had ever been faced with. Their close friend from home, Jacqueline Fioravanti, had lost her four year battle to cancer just moments before. Jacqueline graduated from Merion Mercy Academy in 2012, and had been fighting brain cancer since the age of fifteen. Recently, a huge support system had emerged for Jacqueline all over social media, and #teamJacqueline trended nationally on Twitter. Though upset by the passing of her friend, Dietrich felt that sharing her story was exactly what Jacqueline would have wanted.

“This experience is so powerful right now,” said Dietrich. “All day people were tweeting “#teamjacqueline” and “We THON for Jacqueline,” and now it’s just so real. Since there is no way I could’ve been with her, this is honestly the second best thing. It really puts into perspective what we’re doing here, and I can only hope that THON will be successful in finding the cure so that no kids have to go through what Jacqueline went through.”

Our deepest condolences go out to Jacqueline’s family and friends. And this, Penn State, is why we THON.

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About the Author

Lindsay Hummell

Sophomore majoring in Biobehavioral Health.

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