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Berks THON Org Goes Unconventional With Badminton Tournament Fundraiser, ‘Berks Idol’

Organizations of all sizes from University Park and commonwealth campuses attend THON every year, each making an impact no matter their size. Berks Benefiting THON, which represents Penn State Berks, is a smaller organization that has made a huge impact in recent years.

Berks Benefiting THON was founded in 2005. Its annual fundraising events include the Inspire the Night benefit dinner and Polar Plunge, both of which took place last month. The organization supports four Four Diamonds families: the Biancones, the Browns, the Swopes, and their newest addition, the Rejniaks.

In addition to their larger fundraising events like Inspire the Night and Polar Plunge, Berks Benefiting THON has hosted other events like date auctions, ‘Berks Idol,’ and badminton tournaments.

Though it’s one of the smaller THON organizations, outreach executive Derek DeTommaso enjoys being able to build close relationships with members and the community.

“It’s a smaller organization and smaller community, so you get to know a lot of the people that are going to the events and are a part of your organization and community,” DeTommaso said.

The organization left Penn State Berks Friday morning around 10 a.m. and arrived on campus around 1 p.m. Two and half hours later, Berks Benefiting THON lined up outside of the BJC to cheer on their dancers.

Penn State Berks raised the most money of any commonwealth campus for the first time last year. The organization raised $71,140.95, which contributed to last year’s total of more than $10 million. As of a few days ago, Berks had raised more than $36,000 #FTK this year.

Cassandra Barcz, Veronika Gargulio, Hannah Kulp, Hunter Leisey, and Julia McDonough are representing the organization this year on the floor for all 46 hours. Leisey, a freshman at the Berks commonwealth campus, is a former Four Diamonds child and has been involved with THON since his cancer diagnosis in 2012.

Earlier this week, the organization hosted a Dancer Send Off party in support of the five dancers who are standing all 46 hours.

The organization participates in THON in honor of the families they support. One of their THON children, Delaney ‘Laney’ Brown, passed away in December 2013.

Berks likes to keep the families’ interest in mind in addition to bringing a sense of community to the campus.

“We always think of new ways to bring more interest in the community and with our families,” DeTommaso said. “That’s our main goal.”

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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