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Penn State Love Stories: THON, Go Go Gadjet, & A Forever Bond

Love is a beautiful thing. But, it’s even more beautiful when it grows right here in Happy Valley.

Nothing is more romantic than a kiss by Old Main or saying goodbye before class in front of the library steps. You both already bleed blue and white. That’s a match made in heaven! That’s why when falling in love at Penn State, you have to get married.

Basically, do exactly what Emily Fries and Jon Linn did.

Though in this case, their love story started after Linn had graduated from Penn State. Better late than never, but let’s start from the beginning.

On October 6, 2010, Linn was one of the captains on the Morale Team for THON Weekend 2011. If you want a fun fact, the Morale Team is now referred to as Dancer Relations. Their job was to keep the “morale of the dancers up.”

As Linn was back in the groove of school by fall of his senior year, Fries was still adjusting to freshman life on campus. She was very interested in THON, and that’s when she joined Linn’s committee. Smitten from the first glance at Linn’s Facebook account, Fries was already excited to be a part of THON Weekend with him and the team.

“I was super intimidated by Jon. I thought he was so amazing because he was my captain, and I was a freshman… He is just it!” Fries said. “I was always super nervous when I had to see him.”

After THON Weekend 2011, Linn graduated from Penn State and started working with Teach for America. While Fries was still at Penn State completing her schooling, Linn would often visit her back in State College. Other than visiting her, he would have tricks up his sleeve to stay in touch.

From 2011 to 2012, there was a ~wave~ in cute dog memes. So, what did Linn do? He took advantage of a weekly dog post to send to her and strike up a conversation.

“Every now and then, there would be a really cute puppy. I would send it to her and say, ‘Did you see the puppy today?’ It’s kind of funny thinking about it — that that was one of the things that kept us connected,” Linn said.

After Linn finished Teach for America, he moved to Sea Isle, New Jersey, with two other committee members from the Morale Team. That’s when Fries took the opportunity to visit Linn at the shore. Before Fries left to go to Colorado that summer, they used the newly made Snapchat to keep the conversation going.

In fall 2013, Linn moved back to Philadelphia, and Fries headed back to campus for her senior year. By the time THON Weekend 2014 was being prepped, she already knew that dancing for 48 hours was in her future. Linn was ready to be her biggest supporter, official dating title or not.

Courtesy of Emily and Jon Linn

“That Friday night of THON I was able to spend some time with her [on the floor]… After I left, all I could think about was going back to see her,” Linn said. “That weekend was the first time I realized that this was it.”

Linn’s version of flirting was sending Fries dancer mail. It wasn’t your average dancer mail. It was a series of sticky notes that she could peel off when a pick-me-up was needed. Throughout the whole weekend, she would peel one away, introducing riddles, jokes, and sweet notes hinting that Linn wanted to be more than friends.

By the end of THON Weekend 2014, between all the emotions and celebration of that year’s success, she could tell something was happening. It wasn’t until the next weekend they had their first date.

“That was one of the first dates I had ever been on where I felt like I could talk all night long to someone,” Fries said. “We obviously knew each other, but it was such a new dynamic [for us].”

Fries was so serious about Linn that she even skipped State Patty’s 2014 for him…that’s saying something.

Fast forward to Blue-White Weekend 2014, Linn drove to Penn State with three of his college friends to visit Fries and her roommates. After almost a year of dancing around the question, Linn finally asked her to be his girlfriend and meet his family.

Courtesy of Emily and Jon Linn

Since April 2014, the couple’s love continues to grow. Through long distance, moving to different states together, and anything life has thrown at them, their love has persevered. Their love is so strong and true that they tied the knot on October 2, 2021.

Courtesy of Emily and Jon Linn

Of course, their wedding reception was held during Penn State’s evening game against Indiana. Naturally, they had a spot dedicated to the game for those who wanted to keep up with the score.

Most importantly, Fries and Linn got married almost exactly seven years later. Because of their involvement with THON, it was necessary to have the iconic Penn State band Go Go Gadjet perform at their ceremony. The group is routinely known as the closer for THON’s live performances. The couple lucked out at having the group at their wedding.

“It really felt special because Go Go would headline THON and would play the last four hours when I was there,” Fries said. “The same year Jon came to see me on the floor and my parents were in the stands, they were just taken aback by the band. When I think of Go Go Gadjet, I think of those times.”

Instead of wedding favors, the couple donated money to THON and one of the Four Diamonds programs. Because there were between 50 to 60 Penn State graduates at the wedding, they felt the money was most fitting to go to THON.

“For me, Penn State is where I learned a lot about myself and what’s important. THON has a huge part in that,” Linn said. “I went to college worried about making a lot of money. But then I left college wanting to make a difference in people’s lives. I got surrounded by so many great people [at THON], with Emily being one of them.”

Over time, their lives intertwined together, and their Penn State group of friends grew larger than imagined. University Park created bonds that can never be broken for the Linns, especially their love.

“One of the best things about Penn State is when you go back, it’s like you never left,” Linn said. “It’s the place that led me to her.”

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

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