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Penn State Alumni Describe How THON Has Changed

THON has changed a lot since it first started 44 years ago.. From size to venue, THON has only gotten bigger and better. We talked to some alumni visiting THON 2016 to find out specific transformations THON has gone through since they graduated.

Melissa Wenzel, a recent graduate in the class of 2014, says THON has improved in the technology department. “So much of the technology has changed each year to make it better and to come up with a better system to accommodate everyone,” Wenzel said. “That is always something that they try to work on every year. I’ve seen the logistics behind it all and it’s insane to figure all of it out and somehow make it work. Every year it keeps getting better even though there are some glitches in it occasionally, they come up with alternative ways to accommodate that. Even families who can’t get down to the floor, there’s always another way to be able to see their kids.”

Wenzel also mentioned the enthusiasm for THON gets stronger with each passing year. “Every year the spirit only grows. THON is getting out more and expanding beyond Happy Valley.”

Kristen Masagarb graduated from Penn State in 1991 and witnessed THON while it was still held in Rec Hall. “It’s unbelievable how much it’s grown,” Masagarb said. “It used to be just the Greek organizations that were involved. It’s phenomenal to see that it has reached the whole student body. I love the fact that there are specific organizations now that just focus on fundraising for THON.” It makes me really proud that so many students are helping kids with cancer.”

Masagarb mentioned that the more THON grows, the more children are helped. “It makes me really proud that so many students are helping kids with cancer.”

Rosemary and Paul Ondacker, graduates in the class of 1983, have never been to THON before this weekend. “This is the first time I’ve ever been to THON because our daughter is dancing. That’s how small it was,” Paul Ondacker said. We’ve always supported it but never went because it was focused on fraternities and sororities.” Rosemary Ondacker also mentioned that the energy during THON weekend “The spirit has spread. It’s great that they have all of these committees. Back when we were here, it wasn’t quite like that.”

Rosemary Ondacker also mentioned that there is more energy during THON weekend. “The spirit has spread,” Ondacker said. “It’s great that they have all of these committees. Back when we were here, it wasn’t quite like that.”

Scott Shellhamer, who graduated in 1988, said, “Everyone used to actually dance the entire time on the floor and people in the stands used to sit. When my kids were little we would bring them up and we would all sit in the stands together.” Now it’s a lot different. Everyone is dressed up and really into it and wasn’t always like that.”

Shellhamer says the attire at THON is much more impressive than the years past. “Now it’s a lot different. Everyone is dressed up and really into it and wasn’t always like that.”

Lindsay Wratcher graduated last year and remembers the ease and organization of past recent years. “The pass system is a lot less efficient this year.” There’s always room for improvement for the many years of THON to come.

Jay Julian, a THON veteran, said, “There is so much more involvement not only with the students but with the faculty and everyone else at the university. It’s really all about the kids.”

THON 2016 has changed for the better in most ways, and will only continue to improve and grow FTK.

About the Author

Claire Going

Claire is a freshman broadcast journalism major and writer for Onward State. She enjoys reading, running, and a good cup of tea. She's from Emmaus, Pennsylvania and is a dual citizen. (Go Ireland!) You can contact her via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @claire_going.

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