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Prospective Independent Dancer Embodies FTK Despite Rejection

Sometimes the chips don’t fall your way, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get back up and fight for what you believe in. Just ask senior Tanner Nickell.

Nickell, who hails from State College, has been involved with THON since his sophomore year, getting his taste of For The Cure with Torri Singer’s Dancer Relations committee, The Ninja Torrtles. The following year, Nickell joined another DR committee — the KAYrate Kidz — under captain Kayla Miller, where Nickell made a lasting connection with Nick Slavtcheff. The two became good friends and, together, they decided to take the next step in their commitment For The Kids, raising $10,300 in hopes of being selected as independent dancers for THON 2016. “The most rewarding part of fundraising as independent dancers was that Nick and I became closer friends as a result of putting in a lot of our time to raise the most we could FTK, and we had an absolute blast,” Nickell said.

“We just received word that we unfortunately did not get selected to dance in THON 2016. Tanner and I are beyond happy to share so many special memories with friends and family that helped us along this journey,” Slavtcheff posted to the pair’s Facebook group on Jan. 27.

Less than a month later, despite dealing with the obvious disappointment of not being on the floor for 46, Nickell is back in the BJC one last time as an undergrad giving every ounce of energy he has For The Kids. “At first, not getting selected was a bit devastating after all our efforts, but when I took a step back to realize all the good the money will do, and the fact that I still have the opportunity to serve as a Special Events committee member [with the Maroona Lisa’s under captain Lisa Calabria], my spirits were lifted again,” Nickell said. “I chose to do SE rather than a Morale committee so I could still have the chance to dance if I was selected in the dancer lottery. Not all committees have that option.”

It feels great to have made an impact in our fundraising total this year when pursuing the chance to dance, but looking back on my three years of involvement in THON, I have so much to be proud of and I’m extremely grateful for all the experiences and especially the friends I’ve made along the way. It’s been an amazing ride and although I love THON, hopefully someday soon we won’t have to have THON anymore because of all the funds we put toward pediatric cancer research. Until then, I will always be vocal about supporting THON and spreading awareness.”

Although Nickell would surely have loved the opportunity to be one of the 708 dancers on the floor right now, he’s still making a huge difference in the fight against pediatric cancer, just like each and every sorority, fraternity, and committee member at Penn State who help make THON the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Here’s to Tanner and Nick. You guys are an inspiration to the Penn State community and your efforts will be rewarded during the final reveal.

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About the Author

Ethan Kasales

Ethan’s a senior journalism major who grew up in Lemont, a few minutes from campus. When he’s not covering Penn State sports, you can usually find him golfing or teaching snowboarding at Tussey Mountain. Feel free to email him at [email protected]

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