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THON 101: A Freshman’s Guide To Preparing For Your First THON

With THON 2020 right around the corner, Penn Staters across the Commonwealth are gearing up to fill the stands of the Bryce Jordan Center all weekend long. However, if this is your first THON, you may not know what to expect.

Whether you’re working for a committee or standing with your organization, you’re bound to have questions that your older friends haven’t covered. Fear not, because here is your comprehensive Freshman THON Experience Guide for this next week leading up to the big event:

Stop Drinking!

This applies to both alcohol and caffeine. While you may feel the need to chug that iced coffee on the way to your 8 a.m. or pour one out after an exam that didn’t go so well, try to resist the temptation.

Really, drinking anything but water this week is going to come back to bite you. You’ll have a lot more energy throughout the weekend if you’re well-hydrated, which will help you keep a good attitude during the later hours.

Get Your Work Done Early

If you can, try to get your homework done at the beginning of the week, even if it’s not due until after THON is over. Trust me, as soon as that 46-hour timer starts, you’re not going to want to even be thinking about homework and classes, so it’s in your best interest to try to get everything out of the way.

When you’re not actively participating in THON, you’re just going to want to relax and sleep, not trying to reach that word count on your essay. So, work hard now, and thank yourself later when you’re able to enjoy that sweet, sweet post-THON sleep stress-free.

Start Meal Prepping

The Bryce Jordan Center doesn’t allow food inside, but it’s super easy to sneak some in if you get creative. I’m not saying you can slip an entire box of Pokey Stix past R&R (though I would have mad respect for you if you could), but granola bars, crackers, and other small snacks aren’t hard to keep in your pocket or coat sleeve.

It’s good to have a plan on what you’re going to be eating throughout THON weekend, especially if you’re going to be in the stands for a while. The BJC does sell concessions that are generally pretty good, but you can’t survive off of curly fries and candy for an entire weekend. Not only can it get ridiculously expensive if you don’t have a meal plan, but your body is not going to be able to keep going if you only feed it garbage.

Pack Your Closet

You can only bring a drawstring bag and/or fanny pack inside, but it’s smart to bring a few different outfit options if you’re going to be there for a while. Socks will get crusty, t-shirts will start to smell, and no matter how comfy your shoes are, your feet will hate them after being in them for hours on end.

Bring a few pairs of socks that differ in length so you can get some blood flowing in your feet. I always bring two pairs of shoes, one always being Crocs, because nothing will ever feel as good as switching up that arch support after a few hours.

Balls On Balls On Balls

I’m talking tennis balls, racquet balls, lacrosse balls. Any ball you can get your hands on, you should bring. They’re amazing for rolling out the knots in your legs and back, and I swear I nearly cried the first time I used one on my feet.

Basically, you’re going to cramp up. Drinking a ton of water throughout the week leading up to THON will definitely help, but having a ball of some sort to roll everything out when your body starts hurting can change your entire experience.

Take Care Of Yourself

THON is really exciting whether it’s your first THON or your last, but when it’s the middle of the night on Saturday and the stands are half-full, it’s easy to get inside your head. You’ll be exhausted, your body will hurt, and you’ll be emotionally drained; it will be easy to start thinking negatively.

Find some way to take care of your mental health. Obviously, THON is important and helping kids with cancer is an amazing cause, but it’s okay to take a step back at some point to take care of yourself too. Maybe that’s bringing some headphones so you can rock out to your favorite songs, or taking a few laps around the concourse by yourself, or even taking a step outside to breathe in some real air.

No matter how long you stand in the BJC this weekend, make sure you take a minute to pat yourself on the back for helping to make this all happen. The work you’ve done and the money you’ve raised all year has led up to this weekend, so let yourself take all of that in, and enjoy yourself a little.

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About the Author

Katie Moats

Katie Moats is a junior majoring in English, and although she says she's from Chicago, she could spit and it would hit Wisconsin. One time she studied abroad for about a minute and decided to get an entire tattoo on her body about it. If you like seeing Penn State-themed retweets and other stupid memes, you can follow her @k_moats24 on Twitter. All email inquiries must be written in the form of a poem and may be sent to [email protected]

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