Dancers Share Their Best Moments Of THON 2015
THON 2015 was yet another extraordinary weekend. If you attended THON, even for a short time, you probably experienced a moment you’ll never forget.
But what about our 708 dancers? They collected 46 hours worth of memories from the floor. The question is, what moments were the most unforgettable during those long, crazy hours?
We took submissions from our dancers this week and found the best memories to sum up THON 2015.
The Final Four Hours
If you toughed it out until the bittersweet end, the final four hours were bound to be one of your favorite memories.
Dan Hamm, Sigma Nu:
“Without a doubt my most memorable and emotional memory from dancing in THON 2015 occurred during family hour. The memory occurred right after the Celebration of Live video played which ended with the song “Angels Among Us”. For those unfamiliar, this song includes the lyrics, “There are angels among us, sent down to us from somewhere up above, they come to you and me in our darkest hours, to show us how to live, to teach us how to give, to guide us by the light of love.”
Obviously this song and moment was emotional and memorable as it was, but it’s the moment I shared with Jen Shover, my THON Family Mom that I will truly never forget. After the song and video concluded, tears were wiped, and hugs were shared, she came up to me pulled me into a hug and told me that we were the angels that God sent down to watch over Garrett, our THON child, and her entire family. It was one of those moments that made standing for 46 worth it. It truly reminds us why we THON and how big of an impact we have on these families.”
Colin Bradley, Independent DELCO:
“Thinking out loud: when Go-Go Gadjet was playing. We knew it was wrapping up. All of the other dancers around me started to really just look around in awe and stop feeling all of the pain, stop thinking about how many hours were left, and started to soak in the experience. Little by little, person by person, all of the flashlights started coming on, and created what seemed like the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen (the delerium certainly amplified this). Just looking up into the crowd to my loved ones who also went through serious sacrifice to be there and didn’t sleep either, and not seeing their face, but knowing they were looking at me at the same time, was a special moment.
We all heard that dancing in THON is being part of something bigger than yourself, and during that moment everybody in the building seemed to be feeling the fact that they were part of something bigger than themselves, not just saying it. It seemed we were all united for those couple minutes and it’s so rare that you can get that many people to sacrifice so much and all experience it together. It doesn’t matter if you go to Penn State. It doesn’t matter if you gave $1 or $10,000 dollars. It doesn’t matter if you’re in an org or a committee member. In that moment, it seemed to bring us all together to truly be united in the cause, and to enjoy the experience as one body.”
For The Kids
Being on the floor for essentially two days with the energetic kids is bound to produce countless memories. Here are some priceless moments dancers had with THON children and their families that they won’t soon forget.
Michele Pelose, BASH:
“Finding my THON family on the floor after a very emotional Family Hour and tribute to those lost. We were able to give them a big group hug and exchange ‘I love you’s.’ It was a moment I’ll cherish forever.”
Sarah Elyard, Operation Blue and Gold:
“I was in the bathroom washing my hands when a little girl, maybe 4 years old, came to the sink next to mine. She asked her dancer, ‘Will you fix my hair? I have a cowlick!’ I could tell that her hair was just growing back from treatment, it was maybe an inch or two long. Her dancer got some water and smoothed her hair down, and the little girl said “Beeeeeautiful! Thank you!” And she was beautiful. Again, another smile that made standing for 46 hours worth it. Everything about her was radiating joy, and her thankfulness blew me away.
I just stood there in the bathroom watching this exchange go on and it made me realize two things. For one, I realized I should never complain about my own hair again. I have very fluffy hair, and I do a lot of complaining about it. But at least I have it. I THON so that children such as this little girl can have their hair back and their lives back, and continue doing what kids do, which is being ornery and making messes, asking old people embarrassing questions, and putting their shoes on the wrong feet. Two, it taught me that what these kids do, beyond all that, is teach us the best lessons. I know that college makes us all grumpy sometimes, but seeing all of them so happy despite everything terrible that’s happened to them (the needles, the hair loss, the pain) is something I’ll carry with me forever.”
Sean McGuinness, DASH:
“My favorite memory is when Heidi Miller, our THON child from the Millers, asked me and my dancing partner Ashley to dance on stage during the Go Go Gadgets performance during the last hour before the final reveal. And I danced on stage in my banana suit.”
Angela Schlegel, Nutritional Sciences:
“THON 2015 has provided me with a lot of amazing memories, but nothing will be able to compare to standing on the dance floor and watching my organization’s THON child, Corban Potter, get his hair cut on stage and donate it to Wigs for Kids. The Student Nutrition Association (SNA), which I danced for, has been paired with Corban and his family for a couple of years now and we have become so very close. I remember when I first met Corban my freshman year and loving his long blonde hair, so it was bittersweet watching him stand up there holding both the Lion’s and his mother’s hand while they cut his hair. Corban could not stop smiling the whole time and you could tell he was so proud of himself for doing something so great! SNA is so proud of him and his incredible act of kindness.”
46 Hours Of Friendship
Sometimes what keeps you going during THON isn’t the dancing, or the music, or the upbeat atmosphere — it’s the people around you. The friends of the THON dancers this year played a huge role in the success of THON. Whether being there to get your mind off things and laugh, or to send you uplifting mail, friendships really helped maintain THON’s momentum
Brad Reider, Sigma Alpha Mu:
“My roommate Zach Grossman is the lead singer of Whiskey Business. They were the first band to play at THON and just crushed it. Towards the end of their performance, myself and a bunch of other dancers were able to get on stage. After being on stage for one song, Zach called myself and the three other Sigma Alpha Mu dancers to the front of the stage to sing ‘Hey Jude’ with him to end his set. It was an absolutely incredible experience that I will never forget.”
Ryan Zemke, Sports Business Club:
“My favorite moment from THON is when my friend Brandon Alexander visited me on the floor sometime Sunday morning and lifted me on his shoulders for a couple minutes. I am 6-feet-tall, 198 pounds (not the smallest dancer) and Brandon is 6-foot-4 so it’s safe to say we were the tallest thing at THON during that time. Being able to see over the whole crowd on the floor while being lifted off my feet was an amazing feeling that I’ll never forget.”
Rob Englund, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences:
“I got an incredible letter from my best friend from home during dancer mail call. After reading it, I broke down and cried for about 5 minutes. The letter made me feel extremely special, and it was really a powerful moment for me. I had my girlfriend by my side during the whole experience. I’m a lucky guy, and I have some awesome friends.”
The Magic of THON
And of course, for countless dancers, the real memories are held deep in their hearts. These feelings can’t quite be grasped by anyone who was not on the floor. Experiencing the magic up-close and personal will allow these dancers to carry on not only specific memories, but the lessons learned and life-long inspirations.
Jenna Loffredo, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences:
“There are thousands of moments throughout the weekend that I would describe as the best moment, but one that was a top for me was ‘Living on a Prayer’ being played a little more than halfway through the weekend. I had a rough guesstimate of the time, had no voice since Friday at 9 p.m., and felt the determination to bring the energy up and keep it there for the next day. As I danced along with my best friends in the stands, we felt UNSTOPPABLE. These families don’t give up the fight halfway, and neither will we. Any time a hint of struggle would creep up throughout the rest of the weekend, I thought back to the moment when we were more than halfway there. We stood together this weekend as “Dreamers Who Do,” and I can’t wait to see what Penn State, and all other Partners in the Fight, do to empower dreamers every day!”
Austin Boccardi, Lehigh Valley:
“There are way to many favorite memories and moments because all of THON is a favorite memory/moment. However, walking into the BJC for the first time waiting for us to do our jobs and fight for the kids was an amazing and incredible feeling. Some other favorites were being able to see people 360 degrees around us cheering us on, water gun fights with the kids, and the last four hours of THON. The final four really impacted me, shaped my character even more, and pushed me beyond impossible limits. THON is life-changing and something I will never forget and always hold close to me.”
There they are, some of dancers’ most memorable memories from THON 2015. Have a memory of your own that you’d like to share with us? Tell us your story in the comments below!
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About the Author
With no canning weekends held this year and canvassing eventually suspended as well, this year’s total is a testament to how committed THON volunteers truly are.
Totals aside, congratulations to every organization that volunteered with THON throughout this year to raise more than $10 million for the kids.
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