PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



The Official 2015 THON Weekend Dictionary

Welcome to Onward State’s official THON 2015 Dictionary! For those new to THON, or maybe those who simply seek a refresher, this is your comprehensive source to figuring out exactly what everyone’s talking about this upcoming weekend.

THON: The world’s largest student-run philanthropy.

For The Kids (FTK): An acronym of THON’s motto, “Helping to conquer childhood cancer, for the kids.

Four Diamonds Fund: The official beneficiary of THON, a charity based out of Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Bryce Jordan Center (BJC): The location of the 46-hour dance marathon.

#CancerCannot: THON 2015’s official social media hashtag.

Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital: The treatment location of THON children.

City of THON: State College’s name from 6 p.m. on Friday to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

THONward State: Onward State’s official THON account


  • Color Wars: A friendly competition where dancers are introduced to their moraler’s colors.
  • Dancer Lottery: Where independent dancers and new organizations are selected after raising more than $2,800.
  • Mini-THONs: Small THON events organized and held at high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools.
  • THON Raffle Sale: A series of ticket sales for amazing prizes, sold leading up to and throughout THON Weekend.
  • Wigs for Kids: An organization partnered with THON to make wigs for children, for free, who have lost their hair — volunteers will donate their hair at an event sometime during the weekend.



(as explained in our comprehensive THON guide)

  • Communications (COMM): Responsible for general questions and discussion between volunteers, visitors, and anyone in attendance.
  • Donor and Alumni Relations (DAR): Builds relationships between the donors and THON itself, and provides tours to alumni and donors throughout the weekend.
  • Dancer Relations (DR): Previously known as Morale, Dancer Relations will be found on the floor, each volunteer paired alongside a dancer, couple, or group in order to provide emotional and physical support.
  • Entertainment (ENT): Responsible for the planning and execution of musical and live events throughout the weekend.
  • Finance: Spends the weekend performing the crucial task of tracking all donations and working toward tallying the final total.
  • Family Relations (FR): Primarily focuses upon the experiences of the Four Diamonds children and families, committed to their well-being and enjoyment.
  • Hospitality (HOS): Often found on the floor, providing all of the meals and refreshments to the dancer and families, as well as stocking and serving all food outlets.
  • Merchandise (MERCH): Organizes and sells THON gear and keepsakes throughout the weekend, manning the merchandise booths and assisting with purchases.
  • OPPerations (OPP): Responsible for the logistical set-up, transformation, organization, cleanliness, and tear-down of THON weekend and the BJC.
  • Public Relations (PR): The voice of THON, and is concerned with the portrayal of THON to the local, statewide, and national public.
  • R&R (Event & Volunteer): Ensures the safety of two primary facets of THON: the environment of the event itself, and the internal involvement of those involved, primarily dancers and volunteers.
  • Special Events (SE): Special Events, after planning many events leading up to THON weekend, SE will be focused on the THON Museum and the THON History Tour.
  • Supply Logistics (SL): Keeps track of all in-kind donations made to THON, whether they be from small local business or larger corporations.
  • Technology (TECH): Technology is involved with all aspects of THON’s technological side — particularly the PASS System, which is responsible for attendance onto the BJC floor.


  • Canister Solicitation (Canning): The act of collecting money in specifically marked THON cans.
  • Canvassing: A door-to-door fundraising effort.
  • THONline: Emails volunteers can send to families and friends asking for donations.
  • THONvelopes: Letters volunteers can send to families and friends asking for donations.

THON Organizational Leaders:

  • Executive Director (1): Chairperson of all committees; also chooses the Executive Committee.
  • Executive Committee (16): The 16 leaders of THON’s committees.
  • Committees (15): Composed of students who plan and run THON events.
  • Organizations (400+): Recognized Penn State organizations who choose to participate in THON.
  • Captains (320): Chosen by the executive committee, captains assist in planning and fulfilling the THON mission.
  • Committee Members (3,400): Led by captains, members help plan and attend THON events.


  • Commonwealth Campuses: Branch campuses.
  • General Organizations: A recognized Penn State club whose primary existence is not THON.
  • Greek Organizations: An organization recognized by the Greek Councils of the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council, Multicultural Greek Council, and National Panhellenic Council.
  • Independent Dancer Couples: Dancer pairs that are chosen from the Dancer Lottery.
  • Special Interest Organizations: A recognized Penn State club that was founded specifically for THON.
  • Special Mission: Any Penn State mission campus.


Names To Know:

  • Charles and Irma Millard: Four Diamonds founders.
  • Christopher Millard: The son of Charles and Irma who passed away from pediatric cancer — Chris is also responsible for writing a story that would inspire the name Four Diamonds.
  • Megan Renaut: The executive director of THON 2015.


  • Empower The Dreamers: 2015 theme
  • Redefine The Possibilities:  2014 theme
  • Inspire Tomorrow’s Miracles: 2013 theme
  • Brighten Every Journey: 2012 theme
  • Together Without Limits: 2011 theme
  • Love Belongs Here: 2010 theme


THON Weekend Activities:

  • Dancers Sit: 4 p.m. on Sunday, moments before the fundraising total is revealed.
  • Family Hour: Every Four Diamonds family in attendance is recognized.
  • Fashion Show: THON children in Penn State gear will strut down the runway.
  • Final Four: The final four hours of THON (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.).
  • Kids Mail Call: Four Diamonds children collect mail that the THON community has made for them.
  • Line Dance: A synchronized dance, done once an hour, and is taught to all dancers; it often draws on the year’s current events.
  • Mail Call: Dancers receive letters and packages from friends and family.
  • Pep Rally: A traditional pep rally, and the sports teams compete in dance routines.
  • RIDE: A peaceful area for dancers to relax.
  • THON History Tour: A 30-minute tour for dancers to ‘travel’ through past THONS.
  • THON Salon: An area for dancers to get their hair washed and accessorized.
  • Variety Show: A talent show starring the Four Diamonds kids.


We dance in one! And now you’ll hopefully be able to understand all things THON this weekend.

Photo: Dave Cole/Onward State

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Brandilyn Heckman

is a junior majoring in Secondary Education (English). Though she commutes to class from her home in Penns Valley, she refuses to be called a 'townie.' Along with Onward State, she currently interns with the Centre Daily Times. In her spare time, she is unafraid to show her love for Penn State, Landon Donovan, and Captain America. You can follow her on twitter at @Brandilynh or contact her via email with [email protected]


Other posts by Brandilyn

Penn State Love Stories 2015-16: Part 9

This week’s love stories follows a few long-distance relationships that overcame the odds thanks to true love.

The Life And Death Of The Penn State Elms

Penn State Love Stories 2015-16: Part 8

Join Onward State: Spring 2019 Application

Want to be a part of the nation’s premier student-run media outlet? Want to have your words read or your pictures seen by hundreds of thousands of readers and social media followers? More importantly –do ya like having fun? Believe it or not, it’s that time again. Onward State is hiring for the spring semester and we’d […]

Your Guide To Finding Last-Minute Graduation Housing

If you and your family are entering your last spring semester with a lot less coordination, there are some still some limited but available options for graduation day accommodations.

Send this to a friend