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Onward State Freshmen Reflect On Their First THON

It’s not always easy to describe THON to those who have never attended.

Entering the Bryce Jordan Center for the weekend is a unique experience, and everyone’s first impression or experience with THON will be different. Whether it’s your first line dance or watching THON’s executive committee reveal the total amount raised #FTK, you can’t really describe THON until you attend and see it for yourself.

We asked our freshman staffers to reflect on their experience.

Rory Pelella

From the moment I entered the BJC on Friday afternoon to the final reveal on Sunday, I found myself constantly amazed and in awe of the people in my surroundings: the dancers, the volunteers, the crowd, the families, and most importantly, the kids. Never before have I felt so connected to such a large group of people, all fighting for the exact same cause. This experience was exhilarating, emotional, and yes, extremely exhausting. But it reminded me of exactly why I chose to come to Penn State in the first place: to be a part of something much bigger than myself.

Will Pegler

THON was truly an incredible experience. In fact, I found it hard to leave and get a little sleep even after being there for 12 hours. This was partially because I was enjoying my time there so much and was still taking it all in, but also because I didn’t want my organization’s (shout-out Tetra) section to get taken. The competitiveness of getting a section and holding on to it throughout the weekend was definitely surprising to me, but I’ll be prepared for it when I return next year.

Patrick Arnold

For my first THON experience, it was very busy. The line dance seemed to happen on repeat after every performance, but it wasn’t as hard as I anticipated. I was there for 13 hours, but I never felt tired. Overall, THON was a really cool thing to watch and be part of.

Michael Tauriello

I was on both the floor and in the stands. The floor was a ton of fun, and I really got a sense of how many events can be packed into 46 hours! It was also fun to see how involved and invested people can get from the stands, even if they weren’t one of this year’s 707 dancers.

Mackenzie Cullen

Prior to THON weekend, I wasn’t sure what to expect after hearing so many people’s different experiences with THON. I decided it would be best to ignore what others had told me and go in with an open mind, and I’m so glad I did. This weekend was eye-opening and a learning experience. One of the most important things I learned is my “bad days” are nothing compared to what some of the Four Diamonds children and families experience.

Ryen Gailey

My first THON was an experience I will never forget. I ended up being in the BJC for 39 hours and really had a greater appreciation for the strength and dedication of the dancers. Something that really helped keep me going was the different surprise performances which rallied the crowd. My favorite part was probably seeing the kids on the floor interact with the dancers — it really put it into perspective how THON is something so much bigger than ourselves. FTK!

Mariana Franco

Probably the most impactful moment during THON for me was near the end when I truly developed a connection with it. I remember I was complaining in my head about how tired I was and the homework I had to do, and one of the families said, “I realize how you all must feel right now. Your body hurts and you’re exhausted, but what you are feeling right during these 46 hours does not even slightly compare to what these kids handle daily.” It was definitely eye opening and really stood out to a lot of my freshman friends!

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