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A Dancing Daughter Brings Parents To THON

When Vicki and Howie Raphaelson left their house at 8 a.m. this morning to make a five-hour drive, they knew it would be for a great cause.

Their daughter Jessica is a senior dancing in THON this weekend as a member of the sorority SDT. Her sister Sam is supporting her from the stands as a member of the same sorority.

The Raphaelsons may have come to State College for the 2016 THON, but this isn’t their first experience with the student-run dance marathon.

“Jessica came home freshman year for a canning trip. She brought a group of girls with her and they would go out all day and can. We had a barbecue for them,” Howie Raphaelson said.

The Raphaelsons have held canning trips every year since that first trip and will probably continue to do so with their next daughter.

Jessica’s interest in THON was simply rooted in her desire to raise money for the kids; little did she know it would turn into her dancing someday.

Even though she didn’t except to become one, according to her parents Jessica always wanted to be a dancer.

“She was one of several girls in her sorority that were running to be chosen to be a dancer,” said Vicki.

SDT’s process of selecting dancers includes having each candidate give a speech before elections.

“She was practicing her speech over and over. She was practicing it a month before she gave it,” added Vicki.

All that practice was worth it because Jessica was one of the four dancers chosen to represent SDT. After she found out she was ecstatic to tell her parents.

“She called us crying and screaming. It was one of the best days of her life,” added Howie.

The Raphaelsons have supported Jessica through every part of her THON career so far and this weekend is no exception to that. Until Sunday they will be rotating their time between the BJC and their hotel. They also will get to support Jessica on the floor by using their floor passes.

Of the thousands of students that attend Penn State, very few parents ever get to experience their child dancing.

“The most incredible part of her four-year experience was THON,” Howie said. “It’s a very proud moment to know your child wants to do something to give back,” Vicki added.

Even though they are her parents, they aren’t worried about Jessica. They know she is doing well and have confidence that she will crush the 46 hours.

“She is jumping up and down, she seems very fresh and very ready,” Vicki said.

Although Jessica is a senior, this may not be the last time the Raphaelsons have a child as a dancer. Their other daughter Sam is already talking about becoming more involved with THON within her sorority and has hopes to someday follow in her sisters footsteps.

About the Author

Caitlin Gailey

Senior from just outside the city of Brotherly Love. Yes, I am one of those Philly sports fans. I bleed blue and white and have since birth. Maybe someday you will see me on ESPN and then again maybe not. If you ever want to inflate my ego email me at [email protected]


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