THON Participation Extends To Commonwealth Campuses
THON holds a big piece of the culture of University Park, but the dance marathon isn’t limited to students who attend main campus. Students in the Penn State system who attend Commonwealth campuses continue participation not only during the big weekend, but throughout the year as the students at University Park do. Penn Stater’s from branch campuses such as Altoona, Berks, and Harrisburg traveled to Happy Valley this weekend to support the dancers, the cause, and the kids.
Undergraduates from Penn State branch campuses are often forgotten for their participation in THON, but make no mistake — they are just as FTK and Penn State proud as anyone in Happy Valley. Support for THON also comes from students from the Penn State affiliated Penn College of Technology, who make the journey from Williamsport.
One of the more proximate and larger branch campuses, Penn State Harrisburg, has been part of THON since 2005. Penn State Harrisburg junior Melissa Orlandini, 21, has been attending THON for three years, participating with Penn State Mont Alto her first two years before transferring to Harrisburg.
“It’s just a very cool experience to be apart of,” Orlandini explained. “It can be a slightly different for us at Commonwealth campuses, but we usually stick together here.”
Touting one of the larger groups out of the branch campus students, 63 members of Penn State Abington made the three-hour journey from the Philadelphia area to Bryce Jordan Center. Decked out in bright orange shirts, students from Abington have been a part of THON since 2007. Abington sophomore Steve Bellendorf, 19, is dancing for his second year in a row.
Although he plans on transferring to University Park next year, Bellendorf thinks campus location is irrelevant.
“We’re all Penn State students, we’re all here for the same cause,” Bellendorf said. “It doesn’t matter which campus you travel from.”
Even students from the far-reaching campuses of Penn State Erie and Penn State York made the expedition to Bryce Jordan Center. It’s pretty clear the spirit of THON stretches throughout the entirety of Penn State University — even the line dance says so. THON is a piece of the soul of Penn State, regardless of location.