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Our Best Feature Pieces Of THON 2015

THON weekend, arguably the most exciting time during Penn State’s spring semester, has come to another impressive close. In addition to the colorful, outrageous celebration inside the arena, THON also produced its fair share of in-depth articles, chronicling the most influential people and intriguing behind-the-scenes information of the weekend.

In case you’ve been too enthralled by THON to focus on anything else, now you can take a breather, have a much-needed cup of coffee, and enjoy our compilation of the best features of THON 2015.

The Lion


The Nittany Lion Is Dancing In THON, Suit And All — Melissa McCleery
Nittany Lion Michael Valania’s Spirits Remain High With 12 Hours Left To Dance — Melissa McCleery

As if being the official mascot of Penn State weren’t enough, Michael Valania took on another tremendous task by dancing in THON. In two pieces, we captured his thoughts about being so directly involved with THON 2015, as well as caught up with him partway through the weekend. We’ll be in touch with Valania again soon for a look back on his weekend.

The Hope Express

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The Hope Express: The Run Of A Lifetime — Jessica Myers
Hope Express Runners Endure Frigid 135-Mile Trek To THON — Zach Berger

The Hope Express, a 135-mile run from the Penn State Hershey Medical Center to the Bryce Jordan Center, was one of the highlights of our pre-THON coverage. As Four Diamonds families and THON alumni transported inspirational letters from children receiving treatment to the dancers on the floor, we reported on their 24-hour run and the strides they took to connect everyone together.

Four Diamonds Director

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THON Is A ‘Homecoming of Sorts’ For Four Diamonds Director Suzanne Graney — Ted Hozza

Kicking off our coverage of individuals involved with THON, Suzanne Graney is the Four Diamonds Fund director, and has a direct connection with each of the families that THON helps. Seeing THON in person is something that places the work she does on a much broader scale. “The dedication and the joy is here and I look forward to seeing it every year,” Graney said, and she was in attendance for yet another THON weekend this year.

Dinosaur on the Floor


Dancing With A Dinosaur — Brandilyn Heckman

The floor of the BJC is always bursting with bright outfits, ridiculous hats, and an overwhelming aura of color — the Snowboard Club decided to add to this atmosphere of energy with a four-foot tall, red, blow-up dinosaur. The goal was for it to never touch the floor, and members of the club, as well as the children who wanted to play with it, made sure it keep it afloat all weekend long.

Bucci Comes To THON

ESPN’s John Buccigross Comes To THON — Tim Gilbert
THON Q&A With ESPN’S John Buccigross — Alex Robinson
Buccigross Gives THON Trademark ‘Bucci Star’ On Sportscenter — Ben Berkman


The excitement of sports fans took hold of the BJC when ESPN anchor John Buccigross surprised THON with his arrival. After calling the hockey game between Penn State and Minnesota Friday night, Buccigross decided to stop by the BJC on his way home from Pegula and see what THON was all about. His appearance and subsequent Q&A pumped up the the energy on Friday night on top of the ‘Bucci Star’ he gave THON on SportsCenter following the event.

Overheard At THON

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Overheard During Slides Of Strength — Allison Doluisio
Overheard In The Women’s Bathroom At THON, Part 2 — Megan Fleming
Overheard In The Men’s Bathroom At THON — Alex Bauer

Our Overheard series was reawakened during THON weekend, and there was no shortage of material from the floor to the concourse. Dancers complained that 10 seconds was not enough time for a proper massage, while BJC-goers discussed the finite points of birth control and “holding it in.”

Dancers Staying Energized


How Do Dancers Stay Awake (And Entertained) During THON? — CJ Doon

An introspective look into dancers on the floor revealed exactly how they keep themselves occupied throughout all hours of the night and day. From arts and crafts to squirt gun fights, there was no shortage of games and events to keep dancers busy and their spirits high for 46 hours.

THON Is Still Fun When It’s Empty

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7 Unexpected Benefits To Standing In An Empty Row — Anna Foley

Prior to the BJC packing in Sunday, we took a look at why empty stands might actually be the way to go. The biggest benefit? You actually have room to do things!

Few & Far Between: Freshmen Dancers

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The Few And Far Between: The Freshmen On The Dance Floor — Lexi Shimkonis

It may be hard to believe, but there were indeed freshmen on the floor of the BJC. While most think of dancing as something to work toward throughout a college career, two lucky dancers got to experience it during their first year. We spoke with them on the feeling of being at THON for the first time — as well as dancing in it.

4D Employee Sees Work In Action

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Four Diamonds Employee Sees Her Work In Action — Mindy Szkaradnik

Robin McCabe works in the development office at the Hershey Medical Center, but for the second year in a row, she was able to attend THON and hand out free goodies to the supporters. “We’re seeing the end result. To be able to be here is an honor,” McCabe said. Her connection with the Four Diamonds Fund allows her to view THON and its hard work in a very unique way.

Former Dancer Now THON Photog

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Once A THON Dancer, Alumnus Now Photographs FTK — Megan Fleming

With eight THONs, Four Diamonds involvement, and a Penn State degree under his belt, Perry Bindelglass might be one of the coolest THON alumni we were able to meet this past weekend. As a professional photographer, he’s had the opportunity to travel across the world — and throws up the diamond wherever he can.

Zanellato Increases Football Team’s THON Work

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Matt Zanellato Works To Increase Football Team’s THON Involvement — Ben Berkman

Zanellato, a wide receiver for the Penn State football team, gave the scoop on his involvement with THON, and his opportunity to interact with the Four Diamonds children. “It’s like a 1.5 million dollar jungle gym to them,” he said after the families had a tour around the Lasch Building.

A Legacy of THON Devotion


Leah And Colleen Patrick: A Legacy Of THON Devotion — Yuka Narisako

This close look into the Patrick family suggests how being THON proud passes between siblings: Leah and Colleen, the younger sisters of last year’s executive director and merchandise captain, are now freshmen and taking the plunge into the world of THON.

The Kappa Kappa Gamma/Delta Chi Saga


Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Chi’s THON Move Adventure — Mindy Szkaradnik
Kappa Kappa Gamma And Delta Chi Floor Passes Suspended — Mindy Szkaradnik
Kappa Kappa Gamma And Delta Chi Dancers In High Spirits — Mindy Szkaradnik

THON can’t go by without a little bit of drama, and this year’s happened to occur with Kappa Kappa Gamma and Delta Chi. After the paired organizations collectively switched entire sections with another org, they were revoked of their floor passes — although apparently because of some aggression that occurred during the initial section seating on Friday afternoon. Regardless of the confusion and drama, their dancers remained positive and energetic on the floor.

THON Love Stories

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A THON Love Story: Julie & Vince — Jessica Myers
Taylor Hennon and Tim Donovan: The First Proposal of THON 2015 — Melissa McCleery

Though there may exist small drama here and there, love is constantly in the air at THON. We took a look at two couples: the first met at THON last year, paired as dancer and moraler; the second involved a proposal that took place in the early hours of Sunday morning during this year’s THON.

Ally Zierold: The Line Dance Leader

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10 Questions With Line Dance Leader Ally Zierold — Ted Hozza

We were able to sit down with Ally Zierold, the leader who was the heart of the eagerly anticipated line dance every hour to hear her opinions on this year’s THON and her preparation for the line dance.

Why 46 Hours?

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Dancers Stand For 46: Why The Arbitrary Number? — Melissa McCleery

THON dancers used to stand for a full two days, so what caused the change from 48 to 46? We looked back and were able to find the source of this switch, and it wasn’t for health or safety reasons.

Even In Passing, Eli’s Impact Lives On


Eli Sidler: Even In Passing, His Impact Lives On — Ted Hozza

As Family Hour of THON kicked off, we took a look back at Eli Sidler, a Four Diamonds child who passed away with the biggest heart and an even bigger legacy.

A Lifetime of THON Involvement: Stacy Bingler Forbes

Stacy and Aubrey, 18 Years Later

Stacy Bingler Forbes: The Picture Of THON Involvement — Melissa McCleery

Finally, our last individual feature of the weekend was of Stacy Bingler Forbes. Bingler Forbes was the first female Overall Chair of THON in 1995, has danced in the event twice as an alumna, has run in the Hope Express three times, and has served on boards for both the Four Diamonds Fund and the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group… And she’s still not done.

Our Best THON Videos

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VIDEO: What It’s Like to Go Through THON’s Human Tunnel — Jack Lukow
VIDEO: We Found The 10 Loudest Orgs Around The BJC — Zack Rickens
VIDEO: Donors Give To Wigs For Kids — Jack Lukow
VIDEO: A Hula Hoop’s Mesmerizing Perspective of THON — Zack Rickens

Our visual coverage of THON can be summed up in these four posts — from running through the human tunnel to watching the BJC spin into oblivion, these visual features summarize the excitement and vivacity of THON 2015.

A list of our THON coverage wouldn’t be complete without this year’s total. All of the hard work over the year resulted in $13,026,653.23 FTK!

For the entire coverage of THON 2015, check out our live blog of the 46 hours, and a full list of our 150 posts at the bottom.

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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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