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From First Grade To THON 2020: Two Best Friends’ Journey To Dancing

Penn State juniors Katie Wotus and Joey Lux have been close friends since they were in the same class back in the first grade.

One of the many passions they’ve bonded over is a love of coffee. In fact, searching for their new favorite cafe has become a regular staple of their travel itineraries. At each destination, including Los Angeles, New York City, and London, Wotus says the friends searched for cute little coffee shops, and that “just sitting and drinking coffee together was always their favorite part.”

But the friends have needed to put their love of caffeine on hold for a few weeks now as they’ve been preparing to stand alongside 705 other students as an independent dancer couple in THON.

And just like their friendship, their connection to THON has been a long time coming — dating all the way back to high school.

As seniors, Wotus and Lux served as co-coordinators for Greensburg Salem High School’s mini-THON — thus marking the beginning of their involvement with the cause and bringing them closer together as friends. They worked side-by-side to organize various fundraisers — ranging from a pancake breakfast, to a movie night in the court yard, to a “gold out” night at the homecoming football game.

Together, they helped raise of $22,000 For The Kids — quite the accomplishment for a couple of teenagers.

During THON weekend that same year, Wotus says the two attended a breakfast hosted by Four Diamonds specifically for mini-THON participants. After listening to THON volunteers and other speakers, they had the opportunity to set foot inside the BJC and see for themselves the culmination of a year-long effort of hard work and dedication.

“Walking into that atmosphere me and Joey just kind of looked at each other and were like ‘we have to dance,” Wotus said. “We’ll do anything that we can to be able to be on the floor one day.”

Three years later, they’ll finally have that chance. But their journeys to get to this point could not have been more different.

Upon graduating high school, Wotus attended Penn State Behrend for two years while Lux adjusted to life without her best friend at University Park. The two managed to stay involved with THON. Lux was a Dancer Relations committee member during this time, while Wotus canvassed, fundraised, and worked with the Public Relations and Family Relations committees — all while juggling the responsibilities of playing varsity soccer at Behrend. She also made the trip to Penn State for THON weekend each year and offered plenty of support for dancers.

Through it all, their friendship remained intact. So, too, did their passion and support for THON. And their separate experiences make the weekend even more meaningful.

“Being a part for the two years I was at Behrend and coming and experiencing THON in different ways with her, and then finally getting to kind of bring it all together and kind of close out this THON journey we’ve had together — it’s pretty amazing,” Wotus said.

“She’s just the most amazing human I’ve ever met,” Wotus added about her dance partner. “She’s an incredible friend and will literally do anything for the people she cares about.”

The two dancers will need to rely on each other’s strength and support all weekend. But considering how long they’ve been in each other’s lives and how much history the two share, it makes everything so much sweeter.

“We’re both so excited to kind of represent our hometown and our high school,” Wotus said. “I really can’t imagine dancing with anyone else.”

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a senior from Binghamton, New York majoring in Spanish and journalism. She's been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley in 2006. So, as you can imagine, she loves absolutely everything Penn State (especially the Cheese Shoppe downtown). She's also a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan (it's brutal), and would do anything for a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.

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