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Penn State Hershey Students Spread Message Of THON, Dance In Honor Of Childhood Friend

While dancing in THON is a dream for many, few are able to actually achieve it. Even fewer are able to achieve it while also simultaneously going after another dream that requires them to be outside of State College, full time.

However, Penn State seniors Lindsey Macrae and Devan Eickhoff are doing just that. The duo is dancing in THON this year as an IDC, a dream that they’ve both individually had since coming to Penn State, while also pursuing their dreams of becoming a nurse and spending the semester at Penn State Hershey.

Being more than 135 miles away from State College has presented some challenges for the duo and forced them to get creative with their fundraising effort, but it’s also been a beautiful blessing as they’ve been able to see firsthand by being inside Penn State Health Children’s Hospital the impact that THON can have.

For Eickhoff, her experience with dance marathons began in middle school. She participated in her high school THON and served as the overall chair, so once she came to Penn State, the decision to get involved with THON was a natural one. Eickhoff said specifically after observing last year’s virtual THON, it motivated her to want to get more involved.

“Last year emphasized even more that THON is bigger than all of us, it’s bigger than a building, it’s bigger than the BJC,” Eickhoff said. “Last year I was able to support one of my best friends and my roommates as they danced in the virtual THON from our apartment. It was insane because even under such different circumstances it still felt the same in so many ways because we were still fighting the same fight.”

Macrae has been involved in numerous organizations supporting cancer research and families affected by it since middle school. A close personal friend of Macrae’s passed away from leukemia when they were 14, fueling her passion for trying to find a cure and honoring the legacy of her best friend.

Macrae was on the floor for a hospitality shift and witnessed the kid’s talent show from the floor. From that moment on, Macrae knew exactly where her heart was leading her.

“I got to have a floor shift during THON with my hospitality committee, but I didn’t realize ahead of time that it was going to be during the kid’s talent show, and I literally loved it. I soaked up every second,” Macrae said. “I told myself that next year I need to be that captain up there. I want to do that. So, the next year I applied, and I got the position.”

Eickhoff and Macrae are involved with Student Nurses’ Association at Penn State (SNAPS), but knew considering the size of the organization and the number of people who wanted to dance that they had to get creative if they wanted to dance. So, the two partnered together as an IDC.

“Being an IDC, there’s always that possibility that you can’t dance, and we both knew going into this that was a possibility, but it didn’t deter us in any way just because we knew regardless we were raising money for such an important cause,” Eickhoff said.

Eickhoff and Macrae said one of the biggest challenges about trying to fundraise and participate in THON while at Hershey was not feeling as connected to friends at Penn State and THON events happening in State College. But, they both made it their personal mission to spread the message of THON at Penn State Hershey as much as possible, from patients they encounter at clinical to many more.

The duo gives significant credit to their friends and families who have helped them fundraise in as many creative ways as possible.

“I was constantly calculating our fundraising total at all times. I was calculating how many experiments and hours of child-life that our funds, alone, could support and that was so exciting,” Macrae said. “I told Devan, ‘We have fully funded at least 10 research experiments’, and that was just so awesome and special.”

Eickhoff and Macrae are both looking forward to many different things throughout the weekend, but for both, mainly being by each other’s sides through all the good times and the hard times.

“I’m so excited because I get three scheduled hugs with Devan this weekend because Devan’s not much of a hugger and I am, so I texted her the other day and I said ‘There are three times that I really need to hug you. When we stand, when we sit, and the total reveal,'” Macrae said. “To be able to share these moments with Devan and all these times we’ve been looking forward to for so long, I’m looking forward to being able to spark endless light with Devan.”

Throughout the weekend, however, Eickhoff and Macrae promised to always keep in mind why they THON. Eickhoff says the survivors, fighters, angels, and families will be in her heart and mind throughout the entire weekend.

“I THON for the survivors, for the fighters, and for the angels and families, and the people that are impacted by these children,” Eickhoff said. “Their impact is limitless, and every Penn State student is impacted by them. Being able to carry on that tradition is a privilege. Since I walked into the BJC freshman year for my first THON, I knew that I wanted to be here.”

Macrae keeps the memory of her best friend alive in her heart and mind everyday, but especially this weekend, as she’ll be the guiding light for Macrae to make it through all 46 hours.

“I THON personally for my friend Siani who spread her light every single place that she went, and I have her light within me,” Macrae said. “THON’s theme this year makes me think of her so much. This [dancing] has been the goal, this has been what I’ve wanted to do. I have Siani Strong on the back of my shirt. She’s giving me the strength I need to get through all 46 hours.”

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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 [email protected]

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