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135 Miles FTK: The Hope Express Closes In On The BJC And THON 2016

Though THON officially kicks off at 6 p.m., preparations for the big weekend started a year ago and, for some, the journey to the Bryce Jordan Center started almost 24 hours ago, 135 miles away.

The Hope Express, a group of Four Diamonds family members and THON alumni, run 135 miles every year form the Hershey Medical Center to the BJC to hand deliver letters of hope from Four Diamonds kids who can’t make it up to Happy Valley for the big event. The idea behind the run is to bridge the gap between Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and THON.

The run takes about 24 hours, so last night while you were getting ready for bed early and finishing up your homework that’s due Monday, the journey to the Bryce Jordan Center and the beginning of THON 2016 had already begun. Just before midnight, the Hope Express had already logged 60 miles through freezing temperatures and mountainous Central Pennsylvania terrain, even in the dark.

The Hope Express was founded in 2007 after Hank and Connie Angus attended their first THON. According to the Hope Express website, Hank was training for a marathon at the time his son, Gabe, was sick with leukemia, and found that running helped clear his mind. Inspired by THON weekend, the couple thought that carrying a torch from Penn State Hershey to THON would be a symbol of hope for both kids and dancers. Realizing the torch would be too heavy for the trek, the Anguses decided that letters from the Hershey patients would be more symbolic, and likely mean more.

The Hope Express is made up of five teams that all run slightly different routes: The Hope Team, The Conquer Team, The Extreme Team, The Diner to Diner Team, and The Blood & Guts Team. The Diner to Diner team was created this year to celebrate the run’s tenth anniversary and is made up of Hope Express Alumni, including Hank Angus. The original of these teams, however, the Hope Team, consists of 14 runners. Take a look at their route to Penn State:

hope express run

The message of hope and inspiration carried mile after mile is celebrating its tenth journey this year, arriving at THON 2016 to a (literally) warm welcome and 708 dancers prepared to stand for 46 in support of those who sent letters to support them. Since its inception, the Hope Express has raised more than $500,000 for THON, and will reveal this year’s total later in the weekend.

Though 708 dancers are just about to begin their journey, the runners are celebrating the completion of theirs, bringing inspiration for those on the floor and tying together those who can’t make it to THON with the event itself, embodying, with an incredible journey, the reason we dance.

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About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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