Onward State Freshmen Reflect On Their First THON

Following 46 long hours. THON 2020 is in the books after raising $11,696,942.38 For The Kids.

From energetic performances to crazy line dances, there’s truly nothing like THON. Once the confetti blew and the dust settled, our youngest staffers took some time to look back and reflect on their very first experiences covering and attending the dance marathon.

Owen Abbey

I had a fun time at THON. I loved the atmosphere — even at 3 a.m. I spent most of my time writing with Onward State, and even though I was dead tired by the end of my shift and couldn’t write anymore, I still had a blast.

After my shift, though, I got sick, which wasn’t fun at all. I guess I didn’t really expect how much THON takes out of you, even if you don’t suspect it. I realized that I can’t push myself like I thought I could without getting sick, so knowing my limits will definitely help me be better for next year.

I do have one complaint though about THON, and that is the cover bands. How come the a cappella groups only get like five minutes while some of these low-quality cover bands get 30 to 45 minutes for a full set? It makes no sense. Give me more Penn State a cappella groups, please and thank you.

Otis Lyons

I had no idea what to expect going into my first THON. All I knew was that it was a great cause, #FTK, and a whole lot of fun. I was not disappointed, and soon found my new love: the line dance.

While I admittedly didn’t stand for the duration of my time in the BJC due to being on press row, it was still a task to complete my shifts. I can’t wait to go into my sophomore year with a newfound appreciation for the event.

Dana Nunemacher

Onward State has been my prime source of THON education for years. It’s been a dream come true being on press row with this amazing blog for a few hours. Love you, blog (Editor’s note: We love you too, Dana!)!

THON was everything I imagined and more. It was bright and loud. I’m smiling now writing this as I watch THON families run across the floor with dancers. I have completely fallen in love with Penn State this weekend. FTK!

Lauren Wysseier

My first THON was honestly unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I walked into my first shift with completely no idea of what was to come. There’s never a dull moment during THON; something is always happening, whether it be a performance, game, or just music playing.

Sure, I stood for 18 hours straight and got four hours of sleep throughout the entire weekend, but when I was surrounded by my friends, I wasn’t even thinking about the exhaustion. Being apart of something as large and as special as THON is so fulfilling and I’m so excited to be able to do it all over again for the next three years.

Gabe Angieri

I had no idea what to expect going into THON 2020. All I knew was that it was going to be really loud and that I was going to be really tired by the end of my 14-hour overnight shift on press row. Let me tell you, I had a blast. Never did I think that the words “DANCER RELATIONS CAPTAINS, TO THE STAGE!” would bring me so much excitement.

Doing the line dance with my Onward State friends on press row was so much fun and it really created an exhilarating environment. Seeing Cash Cash and others electrify the BJC was a whole lot of fun as well. Was I completely exhausted by the time I left the BJC at 8 a.m.? Yes. Am I really excited to do the same exact thing next year? Hell yeah!

Teagan Staudenmeier

My first THON was overwhelming but amazingly fun. There aren’t words to describe the feeling inside the BJC. The dancers were so inspiring and it was awesome to see Penn State students come together for such an amazing cause. The performances were fantastic and I was in awe of how much really went into THON. There were things happening nonstop! I’m super excited to experience my next three THONs and to see what can be accomplished next for the kids.

Jim Ciminelli

THON 2020 was an absolutely electric experience. The live music that went on was super engaging and fun, and just being there made me want to dance in at least one of the coming THONs. I’ll definitely be coming back for THON 2021 and I already can’t wait to see what it will hold.

Alysa Rubin

My first THON was exhilarating, exhausting, and everything in between. I was both in the stands and on the floor, and although both experiences were very different, both were equally rewarding. I really got a sense of how important THON is, and how much of an impact Penn Staters can make for these families.

I am in awe of the strength of the dancers, families, and everyone who dedicated their time this weekend to this amazing cause. I can say for sure that my favorite part of THON was doing the line dance with my fellow Onward State writers at 5 a.m.

Frankie Marzano

I was definitely overwhelmed with all of the colors when I walked in. When the first line dance came on, I had no clue what was happening. I was blown away by the amount of energy that was in the building. I could definitely say that THON was one of the best experiences I’ve since I’ve been at Penn State. I got the feeling that this wasn’t about Penn State, this was about the kids.

Lily Whitmoyer

I spent my first THON as a Rules & Regulations committee member. For 30 hours, I stood outside portals, at the top and bottom of sections, and around the edge of the event level. I spent most of the time rolling a tennis ball with my foot and telling people to stop standing on chairs and to stop sitting. I also go to do some fun stuff, like watching men’s gymnastics win its fourth straight pep rally Saturday.

THON was just as vibrant and alive as I expected, but my long and somewhat-boring shifts sometimes put a damper on the mood. However, just as I started to feel the ache in my feet, I’d look inside the arena to see hundreds and thousands of people move their arms in unison during the line dance, and it all seemed so worth it.

Colleen Nersten

Even in the middle of the night, everyone’s spirits were high. I met so many different people who all had their own personal connection to THON. I talked to many individuals who didn’t particularly have a “connection” to THON, but still showed up out of support and respect for the kids.

THON was humbling. We all get so caught up in school and work that it’s easy to forget that being a compassionate and considerate person is much more important.

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About the Author


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