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THON Directors & Penn State Health Reflect On Groundbreaking Weekend In Post-THON Press Conference

Shortly after announcing the total reveal for THON 2024 and the $16,955,683.63 raised throughout THON’s yearlong fundraising, THON directors and a Penn State Health representative spoke to the media in a post-THON press conference Sunday evening.

Chief Development Officer for Penn State Health and College of Medicine Kelly Altland and Stacia Millard Bird, the sister of Christopher Millard and daughter of Four Diamonds co-founders Charles and Irma Millard, addressed the media alongside THON 2024 Executive Director Will Vincent and Public Relations Director Maddie Fisher.

Fisher started off the conference by praising the student leaders, volunteers, and support that helped make THON 2024 a success.

“Forty-six hours full of dancers spending those hours on their feet, Four Diamonds families creating so many magical memories, alongside volunteers and all the support the dancers and leadership receives throughout the weekend,” Fisher said. “Childhood cancer, as we all know, is a rare thing that we don’t always receive support from… It is something that affects the lives of so many, but we often don’t think about how critical it is to think about new ways to understand cancer research and cancer treatment as one diagnosis is not the same as another diagnosis.”

Altland went on to talk about how the money raised benefits both the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital and the Four Diamonds families, from fully covering care to investing money for cancer research.

“In order to be able to continue to expand the efforts that we do, we need to invest even more in research,” Altland said. “Research is very expensive in this country. To get a drug or a technology to market — we’re not talking just millions of dollars. We’re talking billions of dollars. So, every dollar that THON raises, we know comes through Four Diamonds, takes us one step closer to conquering childhood cancer.”

Atland explained the different groundbreaking research and clinical trials currently being studied in its labs by doctors with extensive background in the field of pediatric cancer and cell energy, while applauding THON’s mission.

“It’s amazing to see what happens and what [THON] makes possible and the lives they change, the people they impact…people they may never meet is simply incredible,” she said.

Vincent then dove into what goes into make each THON so successful year after year and the impact each student director, captain, committee member, and organization chair has on the cause and the continuous effort to conquer childhood cancer.

“I think the big thing for us is just, year over year, we have passionate, dedicated volunteers that want to get involved and stay involved,” Vincent said. “The culture here at Penn State, the dedication to this university, and the commitment to THON is all remarkable. I think that just comes back to the student volunteers and the support of our generous alumni.”

Although this year’s THON has come to an end, the executive committee still has plenty of tasks at hand. First on its list is breaking down the Bryce Jordan Center and restoring it to the state it was originally in. After that, the team will be on the hunt for next year’s executive director and executive committee in March. The planning of events such as THON 5K, 100 Days ‘Til THON, and Family Carnival will begin as early as April.

“We’re going to have people that are continuing to look towards next year and see what can be done better because they want to see it improve,” Vincent said. “Even if it’s not going to be their work, they’re going to pass it on to another individual. They want to see it better. They want to see THON 2025 succeed even more than we did this weekend.”

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About the Author

Evan Halfen

Evan Halfen is a junior broadcast journalism major from Newark, DE, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. Evan loves all things Penn State, tailgating, being loud, just about any beach, and his puppies, Butterscotch and Wentzy. You can direct all your tips, roasts, and jokes to his Instagram: @evan.halfen or email: [email protected]

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