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The Day We Dance In Celebration Is $9.7 Million Closer

When you create a whole community of people and those people work year-round to advocate and fundraise for a cause, you’ve created something special.

That’s what Penn State has done with THON.

A lower total than years past means a number of things, none of which are a reason to be disappointed. It means the Four Diamonds fund has nearly $10 million more than it did before. It means THON must take a critical look at how it fundraises. And it means THON is taking the time now to evolve to something even better in the future.

The place where the disappointment and head-hanging comes from is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s when you allow that place to affect how hard you work that it becomes toxic to the point you sleep-in instead of canvassing or send a dozen THONvelopes instead of 200.

This year’s THON was rife with change, but despite those changes, people remained dedicated to the cause all the same. That’s something to be proud of, as it could have been detrimental to the organization’s future. Believing beyond boundaries doesn’t begin to cover what this THON means for the THONs to come. At the heart of this organization are people who will fight for the cure, because despite any forthcoming changes it’s for the kids.

Maybe someday we’ll be dancing on the moon and we’ll look back and remember THON’s days in the BJC, much like we do today when we recall the dance marathon’s days in the White Building. And we’ll laugh at how we did our hair and how we didn’t realize the solution to fundraising yet.

Seeing the day we dance for the kids on the moon is more likely than there being a day we stop dancing. That’s what makes THON so special. Until we can dance in celebration, we will keep dancing. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how we raise the money, as long as it is raised. And how much money we raised is less important than the fact we raised every dollar we could.

Every dollar for people like Ashley Kaufman, a former THON child who stood before the audience during Family Hour and said, “This is your opportunity to fight when you have no fight in you.” Or Nick Fulton’s parents, who said “Little did we know that even though our lives were changed with something so terrible, we were about to be blessed with incredible people.”

During the Final Four hours, the following quote came up on the jumbotron: “THON is not a word, it’s a feeling.” It’s one you can’t describe. You need to look around at 17,000 people swaying together in unison to understand.

THON is a feeling. And that feeling was in no way lessened by the lower total at the culmination of the weekend. It did not diminish the constant emotional and financial support given to families, both during the weekend and throughout the year.

To base success on years before is a failure to recognize what THON is about. Because every dollar is something to be proud of, and every family who never sees a bill because of THON is an accomplishment. More importantly, it’s a reminder no matter the challenges, the changes, or the number unveiled in February, the students at Penn State have created something that’s changing lives.

That is why we THON.

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