Volé, Alpha Sigma Phi Organize Mini-THON For Four Diamonds Family
One THON family was unable to attend THON 2017, but that didn’t stop them from celebrating. In fact, THON partners Volé and Alpha Sigma Phi held a mini-THON for the Weinhold family just two months later.
The two organizations hosted the event at Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity on Sunday, April 8. The day was packed with fun activities for THON child Noelle, as well as her parents and two sisters. But while the drive from Lancaster to State College was lengthy, it pales in comparison to the journey the family has taken following Noelle’s initial diagnosis.
On March 12, 2013, The Weinholds heard the news no parent ever wants to hear — their eldest daughter Noelle had been diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer. But it wasn’t long before the family formed a strong bond with two student groups on campus — Penn State’s Volé and Alpha Sigma Phi decided to take a new THON family in 2015. From that moment on, the bond between Noelle’s family and the pair has been inseparable. Today, Noelle is three years cancer free — she will officially be cured after five years.
For the Weinhold family, this isn’t the first time the road to THON was a rough one — getting to and from the event hasn’t gone without its fair share of challenges. Throughout the past four years, the family has lost its house twice and had its car break down twice on the way home from THON 2015. The Weinholds chose not to attend THON 2017 after the outbreak of mumps cases at Penn State — Noelle had to restart her vaccinations due to treatment, and her sister Charlotte was too young to have each required round of the mumps vaccination. Although it was disappointing to miss THON Weekend, the family wasn’t going to take any chances.
But the wait was worth it — the Weinholds’ mini-THON was a success, and the family was deeply moved by the effort the two groups had put forth for Noelle. Volé and Alpha Sigma Phi greeted the family with a human tunnel, balloons, and water guns, among other accessories designed to replicate THON Weekend in the Bryce Jordan Center. The group also participated in an official dancer countdown, Kids Mail Call, and Pep Rally. The event began at 2 p.m. and spanned four hours.
“A dancer relations captain taught everyone the line dance. After that, we taught the routine we taught during the THON explorers event to all the boys and our THON family,” Volé president elect Mary-Elaine DeCavalcante said. “There was a surprise appearance by two of our former THON dancers Jen Volz and Bethany Shrillia. We also had a ‘kids’ fashion show performed by the Alpha Sig boys in our Volé costumes.”
This is the first time a THON pairing has held an individual mini-THON for its Four Diamonds family. Although Alpha Sigma Phi and Volé hope the Weinholds have the chance to attend THON in the BJC next year instead, the two organizations would host the event all over again.
“Holding the mini-THON brought Volé and Alpha Sig closer together and I think that will really benefit our fundraising in the future,” DeCavalcante said. “It was amazing to get to hang out with our THON family in a closer environment, and who doesn’t want to relive the must fun 46 hours of the year?”