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Dancing In THON 2021 From A Penn State Dorm Room

Among the 592 dancers participating in THON 2021, most are doing so from their apartments, houses, or frats. Only a select few are dancing from the confines of their Penn State dorm rooms.

Senior psychology major Autumn Barber is dancing in the first-ever virtual THON from her on-campus abode as an independent dancer. Barber lives in a single in Eastview Terrace, and in order to adhere to campus dorm policy, she won’t receive any visitors all weekend long.

“I knew this experience would be different, but I can handle different,” Barber said. “Although I would love to be in the BJC with all the kiddies, families, friends, volunteers, etc., I am fully aware and understanding of why that cannot happen this year. I am just looking at all the positives of doing this from the comfort of my room. I do not have to ZipLock all my outfits and things to stuff into my Vera Bradley duffle bag again this year.”

Barber doesn’t have to worry about sprinting over to Hobula Hall, the tunnel, or the Bryce Jordan Center. She has a bathroom with a shower, access to her toothbrush, face wash, chargers, and Wi-Fi. She realized there’s actually a ton of pros now that THON is virtual.

Barber is known for being a positive person and never letting a negative thought creep into her mind. From the moment she signed up as a potential IDC, she knew she could do it. Barber freaked out and FaceTimed Jacob, the other IDC in the pair, when she received the great news.

“Being an independent dancer is an awesome experience,” Barber said. “I got to see a little bit more of the behind-the-scenes work of THON, and I received a lot more information. I’ve learned so much this year! I had to go to various workshops and roundtables. I had an amazing communications liaison and fundraising liaison who I could ask literally any question to and they would get back to me ASAP.”

Barber added that she and her partner, Jacob, were able to brainstorm fundraisers and “cool ways” to raise money. She and Jacob are from Maryland and Texas, respectively, so they fundraised from home and spread THON’s mission outside Pennsylvania.

The IDC’s donor drive goal was $3,500. The pair has currently reached 99% of the goal. But, if she were to account for crediting, checks, and alternative fundraising money, it would be over $8,165 in total. Donate here to push her to her goal.

Barber is a 2+2 student who attended Penn State Mont Alto before coming to University Park. Currently, she is the family relations chair of the Kinesiology Club and an IDC.

Barber is fortunate to have a huge support system to help her through THON Weekend. Her family, DRCMs, dance partner, THON chairs, the executive board of the Kines Club, Gamma Sigma Sigma, her THON families, and her “adoptive” THON family are all cheering her on. A Four Diamonds family signed up to “adopt” Barber for the weekend for extra support and virtual interaction as an IDC.

So far, Barber has been passing the time by playing Scribblio on Zoom, talking to her THON family, picking up a package from the Commons, decorating her room (with balloons!), and spreading THON’s mission on Facebook Live.

“To me, THON means HOPE,” Barber said. “Hope for a better tomorrow and hope for a cure. Hope for more birthdays and more smiles. THON means kids having the opportunity to be kids and to grow up to be future Lions. To me, THON means I get to have a lot more family members. No matter why we met and under what circumstances, I am always honored to meet and interact with a family. I have grown extremely close with one of my Kines Club THON families, the Ryder Getchis family, and they have simply become my family members.”

Barber completed 34 hours of THON her freshman year and danced all 46 hours in the stands her sophomore year. She danced all 46 hours on the floor of the BJC during her junior year, too. Barber will not be taking advantage of the rest periods, as she is going all the way, For The Kids.

“Before my freshman year THON (2018) was over, I was already asking, ‘How do I become a dancer?'” Barber said. “I knew I wanted to dance my freshmen, sophomore, junior year, and this year all for the same reason. I want to show my support in more than just the financial way.”

Moving forward, Barber hopes dancing in THON will benefit children and future generations.

“Children should be able to grow up doing kid things and should not have to worry about pain, excessive treatments, procedures, going in for a doctor visit and having to stay or anything related,” Barber said. “I would love to be dancing in celebration, but for right now, I am more than ok with dancing for a cure and For The Kids!”

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a washed-up biology grad and former associate editor. Her legacy will live on through stories like “10 Questions With State College Sensation ‘Hot UPS Bae’”. If you’re a STEM girlie, this is your sign to take the leap of faith and learn to write. It’s pretty fun. Colleen misses the hate mail and can be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

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