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Mom & Me: Tyler Thornton Dancing For Family In THON 2023

When Tyler Thornton learned he was going to dance in THON 2023, he made a very important call: the one back home to mom.

“When he called and said they made it as an IDC, I was screaming, crying, beyond proud,” his mom, Kristi Thornton, said.

Tyler, a senior majoring in business management, pursued Independent Dancer Couple status as the capstone of a lengthy THON career. Serving on a committee for the past three years, he volunteered with Operations (OPP) for his entire college experience.

This inspired a deep love of THON, and Tyler set out to raise enough money to earn his spot on the floor with his roommate and best friend, Joseph Imperial, in their senior year. 

“It’s a personal cause to us,” Kristi said. “I was diagnosed with cancer, and Tyler was very young and went through it all with me, so he knows how devastating and fateful cancer can be.”

Sticking together through all of life’s journey, Kristi is cheering her son on while he dances for the cause so close to their hearts. She’s joined this weekend by the whole family as they visit the Bryce Jordan Center, and their supportive smiles are definitely hard to miss in the crowd of thousands.

“It’s really great just having the support system,” Tyler said. “All my other friends and family just surrounding me, it’s really great, and it really helps me to keep pushing forward.”

To dance for family, Tyler first prepped for the weekend ahead. Besides packing the obvious dancer essentials, he also participated in this year’s annual “No Hair, Don’t Care” event and put a special twist on his haircut.

“I shaved my head about five days ago, and I got ‘FTK’ shaved in the side,” Thornton said. 

Dedicated to standing for the full forty-six, Tyler is energized by the spirit so tangible on the floor of THON 2023.

“Having the sense of community all together working for one thing inspires me,” Tyler said. “It’s just so cool to see the entire Penn State community come together and raise money for pediatric cancer.”

On the road ahead, Tyler continues to dance in the spot he has earned for the people he loves most.

“[I’m] beyond, beyond proud,” Kristi said. 

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About the Author

Lizzie Palmieri

Lizzie is a senior majoring in Marketing and Psychology from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Ask her about Disney World, Diet Pepsi, or dancing on the Jumbotron at Beaver Stadium. When not causing general trouble, Lizzie enjoys playing golf, performing in the theatre, and being the CEO of reorganizing the fridge. Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her sassy sidekick, 19-year-old Italian Greyhound, Macaroni. Follow her on Twitter @lizziepalmieri if your deepest desire is bestie vibes only.

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