‘My THON Journey Has Just Begun’: Champion Powerlifter Dances In THON 2023

THON is not only famous for being the world’s largest student-run fundraiser but also for being a grueling physical task for its dancers, who must stand for all 46 hours of the event.

For Maxwell Bidic, a dancer representing Sigma Pi and Delta Zeta, both of those things were right in his wheelhouse.

Bidic is a senior from the Philadelphia area who is majoring in political science, with minors in public relations and history. He started serving as an executive board member for Sigma Pi when he was a sophomore and was the fraternity’s THON Chair this year. 

Bidic has been involved with philanthropy his entire life. He and his sister, Julianna, run a charity called The Bidic Foundation. Every year, the foundation hosts “Julianna and Max’s Field Day for Charity,” which raises money for homeless shelters in southern New Jersey.

“Having that philanthropy background instilled in me from a young age, coming and seeing this, this is like nothing I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” he said. 

Bidic is also a powerlifter who competes in the 75-kilogram weight class. He has represented Penn State in USA Powerlifting since he was a freshman in squat, bench, and deadlift. Bidic has won four state championships but is most proud of his Collegiate National Championship, which he won during his sophomore year.

The Collegiate National Championship was hosted in Philadelphia — Bidic’s hometown. His fraternity brothers came down to watch him, and the ones who couldn’t make it hosted a watch party in State College. He displays his medal in his room, which represents “the peak” of his powerlifting career. 

His dad has coached him since he was a sophomore in high school.

“It’s really cool to share that moment with him. I couldn’t ask for a better mentor,” Bidic said.

Bidic has participated in THON ever since he was a freshman, too. He served as Sigma Pi’s “hype man” in THON 2022, keeping his brothers’ spirits high in the Bryce Jordan Center. Even though he wasn’t a dancer, he was present for nearly the entire 46 hours. 

“I absolutely love the families. I love the kids,” he said. “Just go look out there, you’re seeing something that is way bigger than yourself, and you just know what you’re doing is impacting so many lives.”

Bidic found out that he would be a dancer in January, and he was more than up for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I felt like a kid getting ready for Christmas Day last night,” he said on Friday. “I’m laying in bed. I know I have to sleep because it’s 46 hours, but I just wanted to get here and be a part of this.” 

An important part of Bidic’s preparation was cutting out his caffeine intake, which he was already used to doing as a powerlifter. In previous years, he put his strength to work by giving dancers piggyback rides to get them off their feet for a bit.

Bidic believed that his training prepared him well for the physical challenge of being a dancer.

“It keeps me disciplined,” he said. “It made this not something to be worried about, but something to be excited about.” 

Bidic was proud of his organization’s rapidly increasing annual THON totals and was confident that it would set a new record this year.

Sure enough, Sigma Pi and Delta Zeta raised nearly $275,000 in 2023, more than triple the total from Bidic’s freshman year and the second-highest total for Greek organizations overall.

Although Bidic is graduating from Penn State in May, he intends to stay just as involved with THON in the future, as well as continue to work for his philanthropy group.  

“I just look at it as my last THON as a student. I will give back to my org forever… My THON journey has just begun,” he said.

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About the Author

Adam Babetski

Adam Babetski is a senior double majoring in broadcast journalism and medieval history and is one of Onward State's associate editors. He's from the only part of Virginia without tractors and southern accents, except Richmond (reportedly). You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBabetski for hot takes about sports. For serious inquiries, email [email protected].

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