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DOTD: Pope John Paul II Blessed THON In 1983

Although the history of THON is rich and rather illustrious, it is relatively well-documented and easy to track. However, after some digging through the THON archives in our very own Special Collections Library, I came across a rather intriguing discovery: The eleventh THON was blessed by the Pope himself in 1983.

pope blessed thon lol wutNews clipping details the Pope’s THON blessing (Photo: Penn State Special Collections Library)

According to the news clipping from the Centre Daily Times, Pope John Paul II sent his blessings to the Dance Marathon kickoff dinner. His note, dated Jan. 7 and authentically composed on parchment, read:

The Holy Father John Paul II paternally imparts His Apostolic Blessing to the 1983 Interfraternity Council Dance marathon participants in helping children with cancer.

Apparently, Maurice DiMino, the Morale Overall Chair for THON that year, was a distant family friend of a Monsignor within the Vatican, and through this contact with the Monsignor, the Pope was able to learn about THON and its philanthropic efforts.

This blessing might seem hard to believe — and the distant year of 1983 leaves little proof in its wake. However, I, for one, like to think that somewhere in Rome, in the winter of 1983, the Pope himself learned of THON, and was so moved that he felt the urge to send along his well wishes. After all, THON is all over the world!

Photo: Central Press/Getty Images

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About the Author

Jessica Myers

Jess graduated in May 2015, with a Bachelor of Arts with honors in English, and with two minors in Latin and Art History. When she says she's "shippin' up to Boston," she's not just singing the song -- she's actually attending Northeastern University this fall to pursue her master's degree. You can follow her shenanigans at her site,


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