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THON Overhauls Policies, Restricts Four Diamonds Family Floor Passes For Sunday Morning

THON outlined new policies for the availability of floor passes on Sunday for Four Diamonds families in an email sent to organization’s THON chairs Monday night. These policies will take effect beginning with THON 2017. This is THON’s first update to these policies since 2014, when the organization announced that each family would only be eligible for three floor passes for the final eight hours of THON 2015.

The new policies, likely implemented to combat the capacity issues unfortunately caused by an ever-growing group of Four Diamonds beneficiaries, will categorize families into one of three groups. Each family will be declared either Active Treatment, Bereaved, or Off Treatment as of January 6, 2017. The most dramatic change is that families considered “Off-Treatment” must now opt-in to receive passes for Sunday, which will be “distributed through a random assignment process.”

Active treatment families will be allotted a pass for each immediate family member for all 46 hours, including after 8 a.m. on Sunday. Bereaved families will have three total passes after 8 a.m. on Sunday, and will be able to switch those passes out between family members.

For families who are off-treatment, things get interesting. The total amount of “off-treatment” passes will be determined by how many are left after each “active treatment” and “bereaved” family has the chance to sign up for their respective passes. Then, each “off-treatment” family has the opportunity to sign up for up to three passes, which will be distributed through what amounts a lottery system. There is a catch, though, as families who miss out on passes two years in a row through the lottery system will be guaranteed them the third year they apply.

“We want THON to continue to be a bright spot to all volunteers and supporters, but especially to our families,” THON Public Relations Director Lily Beatty told Onward State in an email. “That is the goal of our entire organization: to enhance the lives of families impact by cancer. This was an extremely difficult decision to make, and one that took careful consideration and thought. As we said in our email to THON Chairs, we have had 64 new families become a part of THON since THON Weekend 2014. This growth is a difficult reality that we face with childhood cancer, but one that serves as a reminder for why we do what we do.”

“Recognizing this, there is simply not enough room for every single family on the floor for the time period the plan is in place. The plan we distributed yesterday is for after 8 am on Sunday of THON Weekend and it is to account for this growth, which will continue for to happen until there is a cure for childhood cancer,” Beatty said. “Every family will still be able to enjoy THON Weekend in the BJC. We have made drastic changes to every stakeholder during the affected time period over the last several years. Now, during the final four hours, the three largest groups of people are dancers, dancers’ designated final four pass holders, and families — families being the only group that grows in size every year. If every new family is to enjoy and experience THON Weekend as other families have before them, we all — students, donors and supporters alike — need to make adjustments for the growing number of families.”

“Our families and their experience with THON is always one of our top priorities,” she said. “In fact, this plan was put into place because it more fairly distributed passes to families undergoing treatment, which is an incredibly difficult time. We have heard from multiple families that have been involved with THON for many years say they would be happy to give their passes to a family that is recently diagnosed or going through treatment. I think that’s a testament to the resiliency of the childhood cancer community but also the kind-heartedness of the THON community in general. That’s a community I am proud to be a part of.”

You can read the new policy in its entirety below.

Through the THON Weekend registration process, each family will have the opportunity to “opt-in” stating that they would like the chance to be on the floor after 8 a.m. on Sunday. Any family that chooses not to opt-in will waive their Sunday passes after 8 am and can enjoy THON from either the stands, family lounge, or alternative viewing location.

Following opting-in, pass distribution will be done based on Penn State Children’s Hospital patient statuses, categorized into three different groups as of January 6th, 2017. These groups will be as follows:

  1. Active Treatment Families: This group includes all families who are on active treatment as of the first Friday in January (the 6th) as well as all families new to THON 2017 regardless of their patient status.
    1. Active Treatment families will receive one pass per immediate family member, for the entirety of THON Weekend, including Sunday after 8 a.m.
  2. Bereaved Families: This group includes all bereaved For Diamonds families.
    1. After 8 a.m. on Sunday of THON Weekend, all bereaved families will receive up to 3 passes, which can be interchanged throughout all family members on a pass list.
  3. Off-Treatment Families: This group includes all families who are not currently undergoing treatment as of the first Friday in January (the 6th).
    1. Off-treatment families will opt-in for up to 3 passes per family, and passes will be distributed through a random assignment process.
    2. The number of passes available for Off-Treatment families will be dependent on the number of passes already distributed to Active Treatment and Bereaved Families.
    3. If a family opts-in for floor passes for 2 consecutive years and does not receive them in either year, they will automatically be selected for passes upon opting in for a third consecutive year.

If a patient’s status changes between the first Friday of January and THON Weekend this family will still fall under their initial group; this will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis under special circumstances. If you have not completed the initial THON 2017 registration by the first Friday of January, January 6, 2017, you will not be eligible to receive passes for the Sunday of THON Weekend. Families who are not granted floor access on Sunday will still be able to enjoy the weekend from the family section in the stands, the family lounge and an alternative viewing location. We understand that this will change the timing of previous registration processes but we will send out a detailed timeline of necessary deadlines early in the fall along with frequent reminders throughout the year.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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