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How to Explain THON to Your Parents

For those of you who’re attending your first THON this year and need to find a way to explain the pandemonium to parents who just can’t understand, fret no longer. We’ve crafted the perfect letter to help you get the message across. It’s as simple as copy and paste:

Dear [Insert parent / guardian name],

Hi there [insert their name]! I miss you and the family back home oh-so-much, but I’m loving it here at Penn State more than you could possibly imagine. You’d never guess what I did this weekend at THON (which, if you weren’t aware, is short for ‘IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.’ The more you know).

As soon as I arrived on campus, I realized that THON was the biggest thing around. There are all of these different clubs called ‘orgs’ which raise money for this big charity that helps kids with pediatric cancer. All of the orgs have names like ‘Springfield’ and ‘Atlas’ which raise money year round. Something you always hear people saying around campus is ‘FTK,’ which means For the Kids! Everyone at Penn State loves the kids.

In order to prepare for THON, all of these orgs send out groups to collect money from citizens far and wide. They call these trips ‘Canning.’ Usually, people who are canning dress up in goofy outfits and dance, so that people laugh at them them and donate to the charity. It’s a grand time!

After everyone collects all the money they can, they meet up at the Bryce Jordan Center to have a big soirée and celebrate, for 46 whole hours! People bring water guns and volleyballs so they can pal around with everyone in the crowd. There’s a DJ and lots of lights and music. It’s sort of like a rave without all the grinding.

It was wonderful. Me and thousands of my fellow classmates packed together in the Bryce Jordan Center to dance and celebrate our love of children. We all dressed up in the wackiest neon outfits with tutus and fanny packs, and dance the nights away. I even saw a guy doing the worm in a Power Rangers outfit!

Not everyone gets to go on the floor for the whole time, though. Most people have to dance in the stands and watch all of the fun people get to have on the floor. There are lots of great games for them to play, and there’s even a big tarp covered in baby powder that they get to roll around in for a little bit.

By the end, everyone is exhausted and ecstatic. All of the great group bonding and adorable kids bring tears to my eyes! All of us who got to pack into the BJC were so excited, because they showed us the amount of money we raised to help the kids. The money was donated to this thing called the Four Diamonds fund at Hershey Medical Center, where they use it for research. Everyone cheered so loud, I thought I could have burst an ear drum!

[Insert their name], it was astounding. There was so much love packed into that little arena, and so much happiness about the good we were doing. I can tell you one thing for sure, next year I’m definitely going to come back, hopefully for the whole time. I bet you’d like to come for a little, too!

With much love and care,

[Insert your name]

About the Author

Alex Goncalves

International Politics and Latin American Studies major at Penn State, space explorer, man-child. Formerly a paleontologist-at-heart.


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