‘Making A Difference Together’: Berardo Twins Take On THON 2023 As Dancers
Twins make everything twice as fun, especially on the THON dance floor.
Jillian and Sydney Berardo, twin Penn State seniors, danced as an independent dancer couple during THON 2023 and surely made their mark on the floor. With their “twin telepathy,” the pair managed to get each other through the highs and lows of no sitting and no sleeping for 46 hours.
The Berardos twins grew up in a small town in New Jersey, where they didn’t know anything about THON prior to their arrival at Penn State.
“Everybody comes from these towns with mini-THONs,” Jillian said. “We had no idea what it was at first. Our first experience with THON was when we came to Penn State.”
The pair fell in love with THON and its mission through their sororities, Alpha Omega Pi (Sydney) and Delta Gamma (Jillian), and were patiently waiting for their chance to dance ever since.
“We decided to IDC this year to make a bigger impact and get more involved [with THON] heavily,” Sydney said. “We weren’t holding any positions in our sororities and wanted to make a difference together.”
Although the twins have spent their whole lives together, once they arrived at Penn State, they started to branch out more.
“Since we’ve been at Penn State now we took totally separate paths,” Sydney said. “I’m in the business school, she’s in the hospitality school. We’re in different sororities, different friend groups.”
The Berardos started fundraising over the summer and created and posted bingo boards to get their feet in the door with raising money For The Kids.
“When we got back to school, we did things like pasta dinners, bracelet-making events, and things like that so our friends [and sororities] could get involved,” Jillian said.
After all of their hard work and time put into raising money for the cause, the Berardos set off to the Bryce Jordan Center on THON Weekend with high hopes and well-rested bodies, ready to take on the challenges of dancing for a long period of time.
“THON from a dancer’s perspective is very challenging but also very rewarding,” Jillian said. “You start out at an all-time high of excitement and adrenaline. As the weekend goes on, it’s a rollercoaster of ups and downs. The ups are the fun times when you’re awake and ready for everything like the line dance and the performances. The downs are when you’re struggling to stay awake and standing on your aching legs. All the ups and downs lead to the final moment when you know you did it and got through the challenges.”
“You don’t really realize all the work that goes into THON when you’re watching from the stands,” Sydney said. “You really don’t get to see the behind-the-scenes until you’re down there on the floor.”
Every time the dancer relations captains took the stage to perform the line dance, the twins felt the energy in the Bryce Jordan Center, which allowed them to forget the pain they were feeling throughout their bodies. The performances and dancer activities throughout the weekend allowed them to soak in the moment and cherish this memory that will forever bond the pair even more.
The Berardos received an endless amount of love and support throughout the intense weekend from their family, friends, sororities, and dancer relations team. From the letters they opened during the dancer mail hour to the videos their close friends and sorority sisters made for them, their struggles of dancing drifted away, and the support motivated them to keep on dancing.
“The letters we got during dancer mail saved me,” Jillian said. “I had people that I barely talked to send me letters, which was really nice… reading them at the right time really helped me.”
“Seeing all the support we had all weekend long, like our friends and our dancer relations committee members, is what got us through our rough spots,” Sydney said.
During the final day of dancing, the twins really started to feel the pain of standing and being awake for 46 hours in a row. The sleepiness started to kick in and almost did a number on the pair, however, they managed to persevere from the continuous nurturing –– not only from their loved ones but also each other.
“We’re pretty good at understanding what we’re feeling without saying it,” Jillian said. “If I cry, she cries, or vice versa. If she’s hurting, I feel like I’m hurt. The same feelings were happening at the same time this weekend. We started falling asleep at the same time and were angry at the same time. We’re kind of just empathic toward each other.”
Sydney and Jillian have a unique bond that most people don’t get to experience, which they describe as “twin telepathy.”
“We could just look at each other and would know exactly what we’re both thinking,” Sydney said. “People always ask us if it’s a real thing, and I really think it is.”
The Berardos endured the weekend successfully and fully embraced both the highs and lows of dancing at THON.
“You never truly know how hard it is to dance in THON until you do it,” Sydney said. “It was such an amazing experience for both of us.”
“It was a crazy 46 hours, but I’m glad I did it,” Jillian said. “It was for a good cause, and I’ve been wanting to do it since freshmen year, so I’m glad I had that opportunity.”
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