Penn State news by
Penn State's student blog



Student Nurse Kasey McMahon Honoring Cousin As THON 2023 Dancer

Being picked as a dancer for THON is a dream for many but only achieved by a few. Even fewer achieve it as part of an independent dancer couple while attending Penn State Hershey.

Kasey McMahon is doing just that.

McMahon is dancing this year in honor of her younger cousin Keira’s triumph over childhood cancer. Keira was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma when she was three and went through treatment for the next four years.

Though McMahon was young herself, she was still able to understand some of what was happening with her cousin.

Courtesy of Kasey McMahon

“Just seeing her, like skin and bones and so sick, was just daunting,” McMahon said during THON. “It was terrible.”

Following her cousin’s diagnosis, McMahon and her family got involved with Alex’s Lemonade Stand, which is a pediatric cancer charity. McMahon became a brand ambassador for the organization.

Inspired, McMahon started her own club in high school that raised money to fight cancer. McMahon’s efforts led her club to partnerships with the Philadelphia Eagles and Bob’s Discount Furniture.

“I had just started the club like a month before this. So I was like ‘oh my gosh,'” McMahon said. “Long story short, we ended up raising like $80,000, and it was just so awesome.”

To fundraise, McMahon’s club made bracelets, hosted bake sales, and organized lemonade stands — including one at the Eagles’ training camp. At every club meeting, McMahon repeated the importance of Alex’s Lemonade Stand and its story.

McMahon knew she wanted to THON after working the event as a Dancer Relations committee member in 2022.

“I remember I got home after THON Weekend with my committee, and I call my mom and I was sobbing,” McMahon said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that was literally amazing. I think I could do this.'”

She joined her friend, Audrey Carrell, to enter as an independent dancer couple, and the two went to work, raising funds in hopes of making the cut.

Courtesy of Kasey McMahon

As a current nursing student, McMahon was unable to join a THON committee ahead of the 2023 rendition. But, the lack of a committee gave McMahon a decisive push to become a dancer.

Raising enough money as an IDC is hard, but splitting fundraising between Hershey and State College was harder than the pair imagined.

“Not being in State College, we don’t have a house where we could hold events and stuff,” said McMahon. “So a lot of our fundraising ended up being networking with people, through my parents and her parents and just getting the word out. We have family friends that own restaurants that helped us out, with donation boxes and stuff like that. So it was hard, but we made it work and it was good.”

Working on THON from Hershey instead of State College was a big change, but McMahon still felt the power of THON everywhere.

Courtesy of Kasey McMahon

McMahon made a point to be as involved as possible through social media fundraisers and the student nursing association that works with THON. What makes her feel the closest, however, is the kids.

“Being at the hospital, there is Four Diamonds stuff everywhere,” McMahon said. “So that part of it makes it feel a little bit close because the kids are literally there.”

McMahon plans to become a PEDS or NICU nurse because of her experiences with pediatric patients’ toughness. After seeing firsthand how important nurses are, she wants to help children with cancer as her cousin’s nurses did.

“I just started my clinicals in the hospital and I love it,” McMahon said. “It’s sad but seeing just how tough the kids are, it’s really motivational –– and that’s definitely what I want to focus on in the future.”

McMahon believes she has always been meant to be a nurse. When she received her confirmation in middle school, McMahon picked the saint of neonatal nurses without realizing it.

“I don’t specifically remember wanting to be a nurse, but since I picked that, it must have been in my mind. When she got cancer, hearing my aunt always saying ‘the nurses are what got us through that’ kind of made me want to do it,” McMahon said. “I always loved science, but I’m not a lab person. I like talking to people and being able to help kids whose quality of life is just so tough when they’re going through the worst of it. I would just like to be there for them.”

One thing that will get McMahon through the weekend is the prospect of explaining THON to her patients.

“I’m just so lucky to be here right now. Being picked in the lottery was unreal. I’m so happy. I can’t wait for the rest of the weekend. I think it’s something I’ll remember forever,” McMahon said. “I have clinical in the hospital on Tuesday morning at 5 a.m., so I’m so excited to go and see the kids right after I do this. I’m just so happy to be here.”

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Ashley Connington

Ashley is a freshman studying journalism from New Jersey. She has the misfortune of rooting for the New York Giants, but at least they have Saquon! You can send ways for her to meet Saquon to her instagram @aconnington26 or watch her obsess over Harry Styles and Chelsea FC on twitter @ashconnington.

Follow on Another Platform

Report: Penn State Hoops Offers Mike Rhoades Head Coaching Position

Penn State reportedly offered VCU head coach Mike Rhoades an annual salary upward of $3 million.

Report: Penn State Hoops Offers Mike Rhoades Head Coaching Position

Penn State reportedly offered VCU head coach Mike Rhoades an annual salary upward of $3 million.

Notre Dame Hoops’ Social Media Trailer Ironically Characterizes Micah Shrewsberry’s Happy Valley Departure

The Fighting Irish’s social media team used Notre Dame football and a Penn State hoops mantra to promote the beginning of Shrewsberry’s tenure.

Penn State Proposes Cutting The Daily Collegian’s Funding In Half

The proposed cut is $425,000 to $200,000 in 2024.