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THON 2022 Returns To BJC, ‘Sparks Endless Light’ In Pre-THON Press Conference

Before dancers returned to the Bryce Jordan Center for the first time in two years Friday, THON directors and Four Diamond executive members spoke to the media in a pre-THON press conference to kick off the weekend.

THON 2022 Executive Director Kate Colgan was joined alongside Public Relation Director Nolan Marrett, Four Diamonds Executive Director Suzanne Graney, Four Diamonds Communications Manager Kelly Walker, and Stacia Millard Bird, the sister of Christopher Millard and the daughter of Four Diamonds co-founders Charles and Irma Millard.

This year marks the 50th THON, an especially monumental event after a tumultuous year. PR director Nolan Marrett spoke about how special it was to be back in person at the BJC.

“We are thrilled to be back here in the BJC for such a momentous occasion,” Marrett said. “50 years is a long time and we are continuing in our fight every single day until we’re dancing in celebration.”

THON made the decision to be held in person back in October 2021, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all dancers, committee members, student and staff performers, and more. Executive director Kate Colgan spoke about all of the efforts that THON and local health professionals have gone through in the last year to ensure that this year’s event is as safe as possible.

“We have spent a lot of time over the last year discussing with so many different people, university professionals at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, Four Diamonds, and Student Affairs at the university to ensure that we’re having a safe event,” Colgan said. “We feel really confident that we’ll be able to host a safe and successful event this weekend for all involved.”

THON 2022 also marks the first year that Four Diamonds co-founder Charles Millard will not be in attendance. Millard passed away in November of 2021 at the age of 93.

“We have built this [THON] on the shoulders of those that come before us. We talk about that in THON, and we talk about that in Four Diamonds,” Four Diamonds Executive Director Suzanne Graney said. “It was all built cumulatively, the building of THON’s energy. One of the things I remember loving hearing Charles [Millard] talk about is, ‘Maybe Einstein’s right, maybe we’re all just energy and energy doesn’t die, it just comes back in a different form.'”

Stacia Millard Bird also spoke about attending her first THON without her father.

“It’s a little bit bittersweet for me this year, but I’m always excited to be here and to be surrounded by such love and dedication. I know that it’s going to be kept amongst us forever,” Bird said.

This year’s THON theme, Spark Endless Light, serves as a reminder for all involved with THON that after a challenging year, there is a desire and a fight to move forward and continue working to find a cure for childhood cancer.

“Our theme was selected as an understanding of the place that we see ourselves now as an organization coming out of a really challenging year but looking forward to the future,” Colgan said. “The logo was a representation of that as well, THON’s a firework that is lighting up the dark skies, creating a moment of brightness in THON family lives, as it will continue to do for the next 50 years and beyond.”

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at ryengailey@onwardstate.com

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