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Our Best Features From THON 2016

The best weekend of the year is also one of the most exhausting, but it all culminated in $9.7 million for the kids. The money is for a special cause that includes special people with special stories to tell. If you were caught in the whirlwind of THON and didn’t experience some of the weekend’s best stories, check out the most-read and shared from Onward State.

Sibling Dancers


A Family Affair: Matt And Rachel Krott To Dance At THON 2016 — Shannon Fox
Siblings Mike And Kathryn Hoover Will Have 46 Family Hours While Dancing In THON — Lexi Shimkonis
Independent Dancer Twins Ready To Take THON Weekend — Jess Frezza
On The Floor With THON 2016 Sibling Dancers — Shannon Fox

Of the 708 total dancers, three pairs were siblings. We reached out to them before the big dance, then caught up on the floor early in the weekend.

Athletes At THON

angela connors, jessica spellman, lionettes, thon 2016

Matt Zanellato Trying To Make An Impact In The THON Community — Alex Robinson
Lionette Pair To Do What It Does Best For 46 Hours: Dance — Doug Leeson
Soccer Player, THON Dancer Angela Widlacki Going Strong At The BJC — Doug Leeson
Smiles Abound During Penn State Football’s THON Explorers Program At Lasch — David Abruzzese
A Day In The Life Of A Student-Athlete At THON — Drew Klingenberg

Matt Zanellato and Angela Widlacki were two of SAAB’s four dancers at THON and we spoke to them before and during THON, respectively. Lionettes Angela Connors and Jessica Spellman also danced, while THON children hung out with the football team on Saturday. Finally, we saw what a day in the life of a student-athlete is like during THON weekend.

Dancer Features

kaity gonzalez

Get To Know Four-Time THON Dancer, Joseph Zawacki — Carolyn Popescu
A Dancing Daughter Brings Parents To THON — Caitlin Gailey
Meet The Dancer Who’s Kneeling For 46 Hours — Anna Foley
Club Croquet Senior Dancer Pushes His Limits — David Abruzzese
One Of 708: Kristen Garrone’s Journey To Becoming An Independent Dancer — Jacob Abrams
10 Questions With A THON Dancer’s Family — Emily Davis

Every dancer of the 708 had a story tell, and these were some of the most unique. From 1981 dancer Joseph Zawacki’s four appearances on the floor to Kaity Gonzalez dancing in a wheelchair to Steve Hopkins doing 1,000 pushups in addition to dancing for 46 hours, there were no shortage of interesting people in the BJC.

Joe Martin’s 25 Years Cancer-Free

joe martin thon 2016

Former THON Child Joe Martin Returns To THON 25 Years Later, Cancer-Free — Drew Klingenberg

“This picture was taken on Easter. This picture was taken on Columbus Day — the day when I was diagnosed. This was a picture of me taken on Christmas, all taken on the same year. You can see the effect of cancer just in those few months,” Joe Martin said.

“I’ve been 25 years cancer-free. And I’m 25 years cancer-free because of the ones that danced at THON.”

THON Behind The Scenes


Meet THON’s Behind The Scenes Security — Jess Frezza
Emergency Medical Services Work As The Backbone Of THON — Erin Servey
How DRCMs Keep Orgs Awake and Connected With Their Dancers — Gabriella Stevenson
10 Questions With 2016 Line Dance Leader Heather Grace Thomas — Katie Klodowski
10 Questions With Alternate Line Dance Leader Rick Melli — Caitlin Gailey
Hospitality: The Team Behind Your Beloved Chicken Baskets — Carolyn Popsecu
Committee Captains Get Sleep When They Can Without Ever Leaving The BJC — Elissa Hill
How THON Feeds The Dancers — Gabriella Stevenson
A THON In The Life Of An LT — Claire Fountas

Much like the dancers themselves, the workers behind the scenes who spend the weekend trying to make things run smoothly all have stories to tell. Whether it’s the unsung heroes preparing chicken baskets or the line dance leader staying energized and performing in front of 15,000 people, a lot of moving parts make THON weekend the spectacle that it is.

Rejected Dancers THON On

thon stock 2016

Prospective Independent Dancer Embodies FTK Despite Rejection — Ethan Kasales

Tanner Nickell and Nick Slavtcheff had to watch THON from the sidelines, but that didn’t discourage them from the fight against cancer.

Celebrity Roundup


Red Land Little League Visits THON — Doug Leeson
Devon Werkheiser Serenades The BJC For The Third Year In A Row — Katie Klodowski
Overheard On Twitter: Governor Tom Wolf And Senator Bob Casey Give THON A Shoutout — Mike Reisman
SportsCenter Anchor Kevin Negandhi Shouts Out THON — Doug Leeson
Khloe Kardashian Tweets Support For THON 2016 Dancers — Alex Robinson

Everyone’s favorite Little League team, “Ned Bigby,” two politicians, a SportsCenter anchor, and a Kardashian were all FTK this weekend.


football pep rally winners

The First In Line For THON 2016 — Dana Lipshutz
THON 2016 Human Tunnel — Sam Panko
The THON 2016 Line Dance — Aaron Andrews
Here’s What Dancers Are Listening To On The Floor — Aaron Andrews
What’s In Your Dancer Package? — Sam Panko
Slides of Strength — Sam Panko
Star Wars Cosplayers Visit THON 2016 — Nick Weiss and Sam Panko
The First 24 Hours Of THON 2016 — Maggie Wrobel
Pep Rally Highlights — Sam Panko
How Has Your THON Experience Been? — Maggie Wrobel
Welcome To The THON Floor — Maggie Wrobel
THON’s Best Dance Moves — Maggie Wrobel
THON 2016: The Final Four Hours — Aaron Andrews

If you couldn’t make it to THON 2016, our video team has you covered. Highlights include Saquon Barkley proving he might be better at dancing than football while dancers shared some of their quirks. After all of it, look at the last emotional video about the Final Four hours.


sean gregory

Power Ranking The THON 2016 Line Dance Lyrics — Doug Leeson
I Spy: THON 2016 Edition — Caitlin Gailey
THON 2016 Prop Bets — Doug Leeson
The Double Decker Burger: THON’s Behemoth Of A Sandwich — Mike Reisman
THON Spectators Show Off Their Favorite Line Dance Moves — Emily Davis
We Found The Best THON Tattoos — Tim Reams
Natty Nittany: THON 2016 Edition — Claire Going
Overheard In The Women’s Bathroom At THON 2016 — Gabriela Stevenson
Texts From Last Night: THON Dancer Edition — Megan Fleming

Our own Sean Gregory danced for 46 and texted us his thoughts in random increments. Additionally, “Overheard in the Bathroom at THON” is a staple, and 2016’s iteration didn’t disappoint.

What It’s All About

135 Miles FTK: The Hope Express Closes In On The BJC And THON 2016 — Lexi Shimkonis
Memories In The Making: Freshmen Share First THON Experiences — Mario Di Paulo
Springfield Dancer Proposes To High School Sweetheart — Shannon Fox
THON Celebrates The Life Of Tally Sepot During ‘Tally Hour’ — David Abruzzese
Tally Hour: A Reflection From An Alpha Chi Omega Sister — Emma Curtis
The O’Bryan Family Remembers Courtney On Stage With An Award In Her Honor — Steve Connelly
Emotional Family Hour Brings The Bryce Jordan Center Together — Lexi Shimkonis
46 Hours In 46 Photos — Dana Lipshutz, OS photographers
The Day We Dance In Celebration Is $9.7 Million Closer — Megan Fleming

A list of our THON coverage wouldn’t be complete without this year’s total. All of the hard work over the year resulted in $9,770,332.32 FTK!

For the entire coverage of THON 2016, check out our live blog of the 46 hours, and a full list of our 150+ posts at the bottom.

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About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.


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