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Time Stands Still: Preserving THON History Through A Time Capsule

This year marks 50 years since THON’s annual Penn State dance marathon began, and thousands of Penn Staters across the globe can testify to the event’s accomplishments and legacy.

Now, to help celebrate THON’s landmark milestone, its community is coming together to place a time capsule in the Bryce Jordan Center — one that’s not to be opened for another 50 years. Some volunteers, including Donor and Alumni Relations Captain Yu Wong, say such a time capsule is “good timing” with THON’s 50th birthday en route.

“For my group, we were thinking of companies to reach out to, just standard outreach things, and some of the companies I thought of happened to be watch brands, like Rolex,” Wong said. “After playing around with the idea of timing and clocks — and the fact that you kind of have clocks during THON Weekend — it just kind of popped up, like, ‘Hey, a time capsule would be good.'”

As volunteers began looking for items to fill the time capsule, they sent out an online feedback form to the THON community and used responses to attempt to form a more inclusive capsule that touches or represents aspects across the organization. Some featured items include THON 5K medals, THON Showcase memorabilia, or even THON t-shirts dating back to the late 70s.

To mark THON’s 50th anniversary, the time capsule will also include this year’s Celebration of Life video and a current listing of the organization’s families.

“People 100 years from now can see what the structure of THON was and how many families we had,” said Olivia Notto, one of THON 2022’s Donor and Alumni Relations Special Projects captains.

Of course, the time capsule will feature a handful of more personal items, too, including a stuffed Winnie the Pooh Bear. Attached to it is a card that features the fundraising total from THON 1992 — the first year it broke $1 million.

The time capsule’s organizers say the project also aims to mark just how far THON and its community have come in the past five decades.

“Every single year, it feels like we’re getting closer to our goal, we’re pushing the boundaries — the impact we have and the community continues to grow,” Wong said. “Fifty years from now, who knows how big THON will be? Sometimes, when you’re a big organization, it’s easy to forget your small roots, your humble beginnings.”

Notto agreed and noted that the time capsule project has ultimately brought THON’s volunteers closer together, which, at the end of the day, is often what it’s about.

“We want everyone to feel like they were a part of this. That’s why we’ve done so much community outreach and get all of our THON volunteers and have their voices heard,” she said. “At the end of the day, our goal in 50 years would be to have a cure, and we’re praying for that to be true. But if that isn’t possible by the time this capsule opens, we hope that we have been able to fund so many new research and creative technology incentives to have more treatments and better futures for the children.”

Want to contribute to THON’s time capsule? Fill out this online form to make your case. THON says it’s giving precedence to older or “more historically significant” artifacts.

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About the Author

Charles Reinert

Charles Reinert is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. He hails from Norristown, Pennsylvania and is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. He loves playing his guitar, the color blue, and Tetris. If you feel the need to give him any positive or negative feedback, you can follow him on Twitter @charles_rein10 or email him at [email protected]

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