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James Franklin Kicks Off Family Hour With Emotional Speech, Pledges $13,000 to THON

After being thrust into the spotlight at THON last year just one month into the job, James Franklin has now spent a full year in Happy Valley, and with it comes a new appreciation for Penn State’s best 46 hours of the year.

Following a successful first season that saw Franklin lead Penn State to a 7-5 record and a dramatic Pinstripe Bowl victory, the program’s first bowl win since 2010, the Langhorne, Pennsylvania native helped kick off Family Hour at the BJC with an emotional speech during the final four hours of THON 2015.

Franklin began by introducing Noah Benner, a THON kid and “member of the family.” It wasn’t long before the emotional scene in the BJC started to visibly effect the first-year coach.

“This is emotional for me, so,” Franklin said, before pausing to fight back tears. “I wanna thank the families and all that are here, everybody in this arena, all the alumni, we’re here to support you, we have your back and want to make sure you know that.”

“I cant express to you guys walking in here how much you empower and how much you inspire not only the Penn State community but the entire country,” Franklin continued. “It’s amazing to walk in this arena and see the type of commitment you guys all make; to see the type of commitment you have in our lives.”

Franklin’s daughters Shola and Addie then came forward with baggies full of loose change, and Franklin announced that he and his family will make a $13,000 donation to THON.

“We’ve been here 13 months and since day we arrive Shola has been saving in her piggy bank and so is Addie because she wanted to make a donation to be a part of THON,” Franklin said. “So let’s continue to do what we do here at Penn State. Let’s make everybody proud. Let’s fight like heck to destroy pediatric cancer.”

Having been outspoken in the past about his appreciation of Penn State’s culture, Franklin again made a powerful statement about the passion and commitment of the Penn State community to making an impact, never more evident than a capacity crowd at the BJC to celebrate THON.

“If you want to talk about Penn State’s culture, look around,” Franklin said, his voice raised. “This is Penn State’s culture.”

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About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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