THON Explorers Program Music Adventure Gives Families Chance To Rest, Relax, & Play

The THON Explorers Program welcomed Four Diamonds Families for an intimate event that featured activities like live music, drawing, and a very competitive game of Tic-Tac-Toe in the Wagner Building Saturday afternoon.

Country singer and former Four Diamonds child Ashley Elizabeth led the program, shared a bit about her personal connection to THON, and then sang a few songs for the room, including a Taylor Swift medley.

“My story started about 20 years ago. On March 2, 1999, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I was treated up at Penn State Hershey, so I’m also a Four Diamonds kiddo,” Elizabeth said. “Treatments not easy at all, but luckily I don’t remember much of it. But I have my mom though to fill me in on everything that happened.”

Now Elizabeth, almost 21 years to the date after her diagnosis, is sharing her story along with her passion for music all over the country. She’s had the unique opportunity to open for Grammy Award-nominated country artist Trace Adkins.

She now works as a medical assistant at Penn State Hershey, the same hospital that treated her and many of the adventure’s attendees.

After performing, Elizabeth let some of the children in attendance sign her guitar.

No guitar is properly decked out without tons of glitter and stickers too! Those in attendance also got the chance to color and draw about some of their favorite things on the sheets provided.

A tic tac toe competition became intense after the fifth round or so.

Elizabeth’s decked-out glitter guitar was a hot commodity among the children who came to the front of the room. They even had the chance to play around with it and learn a few chords.

For Elizabeth, music served as a way of facing and overcoming challenges. Her session provided families with a relaxing, but equally inspiring break from the high-energy of the atmosphere of the Bryce Jordan Center.

“Music has been my thing to kind of get me through some rough times, I’ve struggled with some things, and there are bumps we all hit,” Elizabeth said. “But music has always been my No. 1 thing.”

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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