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How Will A Virtual THON Work?

THON sent shockwaves through its community back in August when it announced its 2021 dance marathon would take place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Although most volunteers and fans quickly supported the decision way back when, you’ve probably still got a few questions about the event’s logistics as it rapidly approaches. And, you guessed it, THON Weekend will look a whole lot different when it’s online this February.

Most notably, dancers won’t stand for 46 straight hours in the Bryce Jordan Center. Instead, they’ll participate from their homes and take part in “designated rest hours” between midnight and 6 a.m. each night to promote dancer safety. THON said it departed from a 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping approach because it couldn’t ensure “proper resources” for each participant while they’re scattered across town.

The event will still follow the same traditional schedule, though. Dancers will stand at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 19, and wrap up at 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 21. THON will reveal this year’s fundraising total shortly after.

As you could imagine, spectators won’t be at the BJC, either. Instead, they can tune into the entire weekend of events through a virtual livestream operated by 46Live, which will be accessible to anyone at home at THON.org/livestream.

THON Weekend will maintain a few constants, though. The organization confirmed it’ll still organize hourly line dances, host events like Family Hour and the Pep Rally, and sponsor performances from local artists and perhaps even a few big-name guests.

Despite the modified plans, THON 2021 Executive Director Katie Solomon said she’s proud of how resilient the organization has been over the past year.

“We started off our year in March 2020, just as everything was changing due to COVID-19 and had no idea what was yet to come. With nearly fifty years of experience and tradition behind us, our world was flipped upside-down,” Solomon said. “However, what will never change is our ability to financially and emotionally support families impacted by childhood cancer — nothing can take that away.”

Four Diamonds Executive Director Suzanne Graney, meanwhile, said she believes the organization’s efforts this year exemplify THON 2021’s theme, “Rise and Unify.”

“Every year, THON strives to do as much as possible to raise funds and awareness to help fuel our mission,” Graney said. “In this year unlike anything any of us have ever experienced, THON volunteers inspired us with their resilience adaptability, and courage — much like Four Diamonds children inspire us in how they face and fight cancer.”

We dance in 15!

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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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