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Family Histories, Nursing Backgrounds Inspire Friends To Dance At THON

Juniors Katelyn Hottle, Caroline Manley, and Olivia Orth all became friends during their freshman year after meeting through the nursing program. Now in their third THON, the trio of friends are getting to dance together for 46 hours. Hottle and Manley are an independent dancer couple, while Orth is representing the Student Nurses Association.

Dancing in THON had been a goal for Hottle after serving as a committee member for Rules & Regulations and Dancer Relations. Cancer hits close to home for Hottle, whose cousin had cancer and has been in remission for 20 years. Hottle’s grandfather passed away from cancer when she was three years old.

Manley was a committee member for Dancer Relations the last two years but wanted to dance for her cousin who was diagnosed last year with lymphoma and completed her treatments at Hershey Medical Center.

“That definitely fueled my desire to dance,” Manley said,”because it’s a lot to dance and not everyone can do it, but [Katelyn and I] really wanted to try, and we were really passionate about dancing for everyone.”

For Orth, THON influenced her decision to come to Penn State and also affected her personally. Her cousin is also a Four Diamonds child who’s currently in remission.

“I got to see my cousin get treated at Hershey [Medical Center] and the impact that it had on my family and them not having to worry about the [medical] bills,” Orth said. “I think that was a big push for me to get involved in THON.”

Hottle and Manley are representing the Evans family while Orth is representing the Packer Family.

As an independent dancer couple, Hottle and Manley had been fundraising since last summer to meet the $2,800 minimum to get into the independent dancer lottery. They’ve raised more than $4,000 so far.

“We couldn’t stop screaming for like a whole weekend,” Hottle said. “We were so excited because we worked like all year to try and dance.”

Orth had been chosen by her organization through an involvement-based system. They kept track of members’ involvement hours and by the time it came to pick, Orth had secured one of the two dancer slots.

Orth, who serves as the THON chair for the Student Nurses Association, had known for a while that she’d be dancing in THON. After she found out that Hottle and Manley would be dancing, she was even more excited than when she found out she’d be dancing.

As nursing majors, Hottle, Manley, and Orth have gotten to see first hand how cancer has impacted the patients they’ve worked with in addition to their personal experiences with family members affected by cancer.

All three dancers agreed that the support from everyone involved in THON and the support they provide each other is what’s going to get them through the 46 hours.

“You definitely know you’re not alone. There’s so many people that have your back, and I know we have each other’s backs, too,” Manley said. “That’s how we’re going to get through it all.”

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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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