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Blue Band’s Ryan Bechman Embarks On His Own THON Journey

In the midst of a year that’s been comparable to none other for the Penn State Blue Band, senior trumpeter Ryan Bechman has remained positive despite extreme adaptations made by the band’s directors and members.

Without football games or regularly scheduled performances, the unit has needed to adjust in unprecedented manners. Even without receiving a final send-off season, Bechman has been able to find joy in still doing what he loves, regardless of the uncontrollable circumstances.

“This year has definitely been more of a training year,” Bechman said. “We still had practice three days a week, even though we didn’t have the weekend football games or the trips. A lot of this year has been focusing on the music of what we were playing and getting better at our technique more, but also getting the future kids ready to go like the new freshman, so they’ll be ready for a full year next year, hopefully of marching.”

In addition to his presence in the Blue Band, Bechman has always had a vision of participating in THON. The Murrysville, Pennsylvania native hails from a long, extended lineage of Penn Staters who have held a presence in making THON the nation’s largest student-run philanthropy.

“My sister came here, and she did a committee for four years,” Bechman said. “She was on the operations committee, so I’ve been going to THON since around 2011. I haven’t really missed a THON since. Also, my mom, when she went here, was involved in THON. I think she danced when it was back in Rec Hall, so it has always been a big part of my family.”

“As a kid, in high school and middle school, I always thought it was impossible to stand for more than three hours,” he added. “But now, in college, I’m so excited to do it.”

In this year’s event, Ryan is dancing for his organization, Ohana. The group is a special interest organization for THON with the sole purpose of raising awareness for Four Diamonds families.

“The whole reason I’m dancing this year is for my organization Ohana,” Bechman said. “It’s a big honor, and it’s something I’ve worked to [accomplish] from being on leadership with Ohana. It’s always been an end goal to be able to represent them in the best way, even if it’s an off-year like this.”

Ohana is one of the largest organizations of its kind on campus. During THON 2020, the club raised more than $130,000 for families affected by pediatric cancer. Additionally, since the group’s inception in 2008, Ohana has stunningly produced nearly $2 million in donations. Bechman’s role within Ohana focuses on the support of affected Four Diamonds families as an executive chair member for family relations.

Despite standing for long, strenuous periods of time with the Blue Band, Bechman knows the physical element of THON is a completely different beast. While he has his doubts about remaining on his feet for the entirety of the weekend, he knows he’ll be able to channel experience from his playing days to stay motivated.

“Honestly, maybe I’m a little bit prepared from the summer band camp days,” Bechman said. “The BJC can get pretty hot and smelly, and I feel like band camp can be the same. Those long days over the summer can definitely help out for this.”

Bechman’s will to fight for his Four Diamonds families will carry him much further than his physical preparation ever could. Specifically, he is dancing for the Dawson, Wilson, Brysiak, and Good families. Personally, he hopes to make an impact in tribute to his grandma and aunt.

After patiently waiting to write his own chapter in the Bechman family’s long Penn State Dance Marathon story, Bechman’s honor of dancing in the first-ever virtual THON of its kind is well-warranted.

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About the Author

Connor Krause

Connor Krause is a junior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania double majoring in journalism and business. He is a lifelong Penn State football and basketball fan and enjoys rooting for Pittsburgh sports teams. In his free time, Connor can be found playing golf or pick-up basketball. You can follow his Twitter and Instagram @ckrause_31.

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