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Your Best THON 2019 Dancer Mail Call Memories

Earlier this week, we asked dancers to share their favorite memories about the letters and gifts they received during Dancer Mail Call that helped them persevere through some of the most grueling hours of THON 2019.

Some of the feedback we received showed just how creative, motivating, and heartfelt the army of supporters behind the 707 dancers could be. In no particular order, here are a few of our favorite responses:

Tom Dougherty, Class of 2021 

What do you do when you want to write a letter but there’s no paper around? If you’re Tom Dougherty’s fraternity Big, you use a piece of wood. You might have to contact more than ten people in the THON office before receiving approval, but in the end, it’s well worth it.

Other than the fact that the piece of wood was originally addressed to the wrong dancer (way to go, Alex), this creative gift immediately brightened Dougherty’s mood. “It made me smile ear to ear, because only Alex would know how to make me laugh like that over a piece of wood,” he said.

Alex also wrote a summary for every episode of Brooklyn 99 Season 1, with the hope that Tom would pretend the piece of wood was a television. Who knew wood could be so entertaining?

Jamie Turner, Class of 2019

When Turner was feeling her worst during THON weekend, she received handmade cards from Mrs. Pasternak’s fourth grade class.

“They wrote me letters of encouragement and told me to keep going for the kids,” she said.

The students also recorded videos for Turner, showing her how to dance and providing more words of support and inspiration. Turner said she plans to keep these cards and videos with her forever.

“I will always be grateful to these kids for cheering me on,” she said.

Mikaela Walker, Class of 2021

Due to a miscommunication involving the pass system, Walker wasn’t allowed to have many visitors on the floor during THON weekend. But that didn’t stop her women’s hockey teammates from making sure her spirits remained high throughout the weekend. They sent her a package that included notes, pictures, and the adorable stuffed animal shown below.

But this wasn’t just any stuffed animal. Walker’s teammates each took turns kissing it on the head for good luck. So even though she couldn’t share her THON experience with her friends on the floor, Walker knew that they were with her in spirit.

Laura Post, Class of 2019

Post opened an envelope from her best friend to find a save-the-date for the friend’s wedding, along with the order confirmation for tickets to see “Aladdin” on Broadway.

“Needless to say, tears were shed,” she said.

Carrie McCartney, Class of 2020

Younger siblings do it best. McCartney’s little sister sent her photos from a time period she refers to as “the peak of her awkward stage in life.” Her sister wanted her to know that if she could make it through years of wearing braces and wire-rimmed glasses, 46 hours of dancing would seem like nothing. Apparently, a little tough love was exactly what McCartney needed.

Michael Dolan, Class of 2020

Dolan received letters from all of his family members…from the same piece of paper. They ripped each note into tiny squares and mailed them separately, giving him a good reason to laugh.

Erica Mills, Class of 2021

Mills’s mother sent her a total of twenty-three letters during THON. Attached to each letter was a small index card with a motivational quote, and a very specific set of instructions. Before opening each letter, Mills’ mom asked her to go back and re-read the quotes she’d already opened.

“These quotes lifted me up throughout THON and whenever I felt down, tired, or sore I would immediately pull out the quotes and start reading them,” Mills said. “They made me feel loved, encouraged, and gave me new sources of energy. Thank you, Mom.”

Katie Toth, Class of 2019

Dancing in THON 2019 had a special significance for Katie Toth, whose aunt recently passed away from brain cancer. During Dancer Mail Call, Toth received the letter below from her mother, which included a picture of her aunt.

Although Toth was overcome with a wave of emotions, she said the letter helped to push her through when times got tough, reminding her of exactly why she was dancing in the first place.

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a freshman from Binghamton, New York. She has been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley. She loves ice cream, Penn State sports, and spending time with her two dogs, Coach and Jeter. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.


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