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Freshmen Reflect On First THON Experience

THON 2023 was truly one for the books. After 46 hours of dancing for a cure, the event set a new fundraising record with $15,006,132.46 raised For The Kids.

For many, THON 2023 was their first time experiencing the magic of this Four Diamonds event. As the confetti is swept away and the Bryce Jordan Center returns to its normal state, some of our first-year staff members took some time to reflect on their first THON experience.  

Jack Anderson-Jussen

My first year experiencing THON was truly one to remember. Getting out of class on Friday and rushing over to the BJC to line up with my friends was, despite the cold, so much fun. Talking to everyone in line who had been there and experienced it before only made my anticipation grow stronger.

When we finally got into the BJC and got to see all the people with their signs, it really put into perspective how large the event is. Everything and everyone seemed to be there, and it made me happy to see that so many people had rallied around a common goal of fighting childhood cancer.

The first day I stayed until 3 a.m., which was much longer than I had anticipated, and I think this was largely thanks to the people around me. One thing I learned throughout THON was the power of people with a common goal. We all helped each other stay awake and engaged, shared stories and laughs, and played games.

It was the people around me that made it so special and unforgettable. Of course, the fact that we were able to raise such an incredible amount of money for a great cause was the cherry on top. I can’t wait until next year to become even more involved.

Erin Conaway

It’s hard to grasp what THON is really like until you are actually there. I knew it was a huge event, but I didn’t really see the full picture of it until I walked onto the floor.

Whether you’re in a committee, a dancer, with an organization, or just there as a spectator, the sea of people is astonishing. Everyone is there for the same purpose. When my shift was coming to a close, I didn’t want to leave. I was always curious as to what was going to happen next on the stage. And of course, my favorite event was photographing the children’s talent show.

I’m so thrilled that I had the opportunity to be on the floor for some time, and I’m looking forward to getting even more involved next year. 10/10 would recommend getting involved in some way.

Ashley Connington

I didn’t know what to expect going into my first THON. I was worried about getting tired or bored working overnight shifts, but I ended up never wanting to leave. I started on press row, and being able to see the dancers arrive and the moment they stood is indescribable. Being in the stands overnight was the most fun I’ve had at Penn State. You would never know it was 3 a.m. from all the energy and dancing that was happening. I’m so proud of everything Penn State accomplished and can’t wait for my next THON and hopefully being there for the main events.

CJ Gill

My first THON experience exceeded expectations. I participated in a Mini-THON at my high school, and I thought I knew how big THON was at Penn State, but I was wrong. THON can be exhausting, but once Final Four comes, it’s all worth it. It was an emotional end to a weekend that showed how large the Penn State community is. THON brought me closer to some of my friends, and hearing the stories of families reminds you of the cause we all fight for.

McKenna Murphy

Despite being active in my high school’s Mini-THON, I was still absolutely blown away by THON 2023. I felt like I had permanent goosebumps all weekend, as the passion and overwhelming joy of each participant was nothing short of incredible.

Seeing first-hand the fervor and devotion the kids and their families had for this event brought tears to my eyes. Getting to interact with these families and the dancers and witness the entire BJC dance in the stands was so surreal.

Before THON, I never knew the supreme power of the almighty line dance. Each time the dancer relations captains were called to the floor, I immediately could feel the shared excitement of everyone in the BJC. No matter the hour, I energetically stumbled through the dance each time, and it was some of the most fun I had. 

I am so thankful I was able to be a part of such a rewarding and life-changing event, and I am counting down the days until THON 2024. 

Olivia Damato

One of the main reasons I chose Penn State was because of THON. I lost someone my age to brain cancer last year, and it hit my community and me harder than ever. This past weekend hit me harder than I expected. It made a huge impact on my view of life and made me realize I take things for granted.

Being able to cover THON for Onward State and being right there was a dream for me, as I was able to capture moments of fun and emotion throughout the weekend. Being able to meet and interact with children, dancers, and students on committees made me realize how amazing Penn State and Four Diamonds are.

I learned so much at THON, and I can’t wait to get involved even more next year. The 40-plus hours of standing and living off of protein bars were absolutely worth it.

I can’t wait to talk about this experience and do the line dance for the rest of my life. Once the $15 million was announced, my body went numb. This community is amazing, and I will never take it for granted. I am so incredibly proud of everyone who was in the BJC this past weekend.

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