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THON Preparing For ‘Business As Usual’ In 2021

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect Penn State students, families, and organizations, it hasn’t been easy to plan for the future.

Countless events have been canceled, classes were moved online, and student life practically came to a grinding halt in early March. Even as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration begins loosening restrictions in the state, it’s tough to envision what lies ahead.

Despite the many challenges, THON is preparing for its upcoming dance marathon without hesitation. Its executive committee is committed to planning as much as it can while stuck at home this summer and is working to develop contingency plans for upcoming events no matter what happens.

“Our executive director, Katie [Solomon], has this motto: ‘Cancer doesn’t stop, so neither can we,'” THON Public Relations Director Sam Koon said. “We’re kind of just planning ahead as much as we can, as much as possible. We’re thinking of backups in case something happens, but as far as we know, we’re trying to do as much as we can with what we know.”

Although summer isn’t usually an incredibly active season for THON and its volunteers, the organization hasn’t canceled any major upcoming events just yet.

THON will get a much better picture of how planning for February’s fundraiser will go when Penn State announces its plans for the fall semester by June 15. Koon emphasized THON is concerned with protecting its volunteers and families above all else.

“THON is just following any university and state-wide procedures that are being put out there,” Koon added. “We’re a student-run organization and the students, and more importantly, the families’ safety comes first.”

Although there’s still an incredible number of logistical issues to be solved before dancers stand next winter, THON’s executive committee members know the event could very well look different in 2021 than years past. Immunocompromised families, including some Four Diamonds families, would be at an increased risk to coronavirus exposure — especially in a packed Bryce Jordan Center.

THON took major steps toward getting ready for THON 2021 by appointing Solomon as its executive director back in March. She previously served as the organization’s development director in 2019 and 2020. Weeks later, Solomon filled out her 16-member executive committee.

THON also gave Penn Staters a glimpse of hope earlier this month when it announced the dates for THON Weekend 2021. By pegging the event for February 19 to February 21, THON hopes to give folks a silver lining in unprecedented times.

“We’re going to make something,” Koon said. “We’re going to give people something to look forward to.”

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's managing editor. He's a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza and "Arrested Development" quotes. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ if you hate yourself or email Matt at [email protected] if you hate him.

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