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Hope Express Will Discontinue Its Annual Run To THON, Dissolve Charity

The Hope Express (®) has run its final mile.

The THON benefactor announced on its website today that THON 2016 was its last. The statement primarily explained what the organization has grown to accomplish and thanked those who made it all possible, but failed to provide an explanation for the decision.

“We celebrated our 10th Anniversary last February, running with a record 5 teams,” the statement reads. “What we didn’t realize at the time was that this would be our last run. We will not be running to THON in February 2017. The decision to end the running of the Hope Express (®) is not one that has been taking lightly.”

The Hope Express (®) has always provided a special bond for those that can’t make it to THON because of their illnesses. The 135 mile run is a huge undertaking for the THON and Four Diamonds alumni who participate, but the purpose the run and charity serve are an important one that can’t be duplicated. The Hope Express (®) is a third party donator to THON (i.e. THON played no role in the decision) and a major supporter of both THON and the Four Diamonds Fund.

While the charity did not provide an explanation for the discontinuation of the run, in typical THON fashion, it did make sure to expressly state its trademark rights.

“We will retain the rights to “The Hope Express” and the trademark rights to “Hopester”. Moving forward, the use of either of these items is forbidden without written consent.”

In any case, the run and charity were an inimitable tradition that brought a special connection between the children at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and the dancers in the BJC. It had seen significant growth since its inception in 2006, with five teams of runners traveling in different routes to the BJC in 2016 to hand-deliver the letters. More than 200 runners have participated in the journey to Happy Valley, and more than $650,000 has been raised for the Four Diamonds Fund.

It is unfortunate to see another great THON tradition go away. You can read the whole statement from The Hope Express (®) below:

Dear Friends,

We started The Hope Express ten years ago because of a tremendous need we had to pay back The Four Diamonds Fund for giving us a future with our son. In 2006 we decided to run to THON with a few simple goals: to give back and raise awareness for the Four Diamonds Fund, by running through the communities of central Pennsylvania. By doing this, we could bridge the gap between the children at Penn State Children’s Hospital and the students at Penn State. You all know the rest of the story because you helped to write it.

Over the next 10 years, what started with 15 runners and a few volunteers would evolve into a year-round charity, with several events raising more than $650,000 for THON. We’ve had over 200 runners carry the magic pouch through Central Pennsylvania, stopping at countless local businesses who have supported us along the way.

We celebrated our 10th Anniversary last February, running with a record 5 teams. What we didn’t realize at the time was that this would be our last run. We will not be running to THON in February 2017. The decision to end the running of the Hope Express is not one that has been taking lightly. We will retain the rights to “The Hope Express” and the trademark rights to “Hopester”. Moving forward, the use of either of these items is forbidden without written consent.

We want to thank everyone who has helped with our “crazy little run.” Especially our volunteers, local business owners, our drivers, moralers, and most of all our runners. Thank you only goes so far when your gratitude is so deep. Thank you for believing in this silly little idea and making it bigger than life. Thank you for welcoming our family into your hearts. Thank you for carrying the mission of Four Diamonds with you every day.

Stay in touch, keep the friendships that have formed alive and come knocking on our door often. You are always welcome with open arms and a tremendous hug. We love each and every one of you. May you be blessed with good health and happiness always.

About the Author

Lexi Shimkonis

Lexi is an editor-turned-staff writer who can often be found at either Irving's or the Phyrst (with the chances she'll have her backpack being the same). Lexi is a senior hailing from Spring City, PA (kind of) and studying Civil Engineering. Please email questions and/or pleas for an Instagram caption to [email protected], or for a more intimate bond, follow her on Twitter @lexshimko.

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