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Dancer Relations Committee Members Get Creative To Navigate A Virtual THON

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.

In particular, those who normally spend the 46-hour dance marathon volunteering as a member on one of the sixteen committees were left wondering what role they would play in this year’s events — if any at all. Dancer Relations committee members (DRCMs) were certainly no exception.

With dancers spread out sporadically in various homes and apartments for the weekend, DRCMs were tasked with the challenge of adjusting to this change and continuing to provide the same level of emotional support as previous years. Although these circumstances have been unique, the purpose remains exactly the same.

“THON being virtual hasn’t changed DR’s mission of being there for the dancers, so they can be there for the kids,” senior committee member Nick Perricone said. “I approached this year’s THON as I would any other year.”

Perricone noted that new rules and regulations certainly present challenges, but they aren’t stopping THON from chasing its goal: finding a cure.

With that goal in mind, DRCMs have gotten innovative with the ways they stay in touch and monitor their dancers. These include hosting “wellness hours” where everyone stretches together, playing games like “Among Us” and “Cards Against Humanity” to stay entertained (and awake), delivering mail from loved ones and other gifts directly to doorsteps, and reading inspirational stories about Four Diamond families.

“Technology has allowed us to feel comfortable with making sure our dancers are staying safe even though we may not be in the same room as them,” Perricone said. “I can check in on my dancers whenever they need support.”

Perricone has a very valid point. Thanks to Zoom, FaceTime, text messages, and social media, dancers and DRCMs have been able to communicate frequently and ultimately ensure that THON 2021 is running as smoothly as possible.

Luckily for Perricone, he’s also found a safe way to be with his dancers in-person this weekend, without putting anyone at risk. This is a luxury that many, but not all, DRCMs have.

Socially distanced apartment and house visits provide an enormous sense of comfort for dancers, who would normally be surrounded and motivated by thousands of others inside the walls of a full capacity BJC.

Regardless of whether or not DRCMs see their dancers in person or only through a screen, it’s clear that this committee is going above and beyond to make this year’s THON as normal as possible. With their creativity and determination to succeed, DRCMs have ensured that dancers in 2021 are as well cared for as any from years past.

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a senior from Binghamton, New York majoring in Spanish and journalism. She's been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley in 2006. So, as you can imagine, she loves absolutely everything Penn State (especially the Cheese Shoppe downtown). She's also a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan (it's brutal), and would do anything for a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.

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