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[Photo Story] THON Through A Sibling IDC’s Disposable Camera

We’re nearly a month removed from THON Weekend 2024, but the memories remain fresh after raising nearly $17 million For The Kids.

My freshman brother, and fellow Onward State staffer, Ryan Smith and I were selected as an Independent Dancer Couple for THON 2024 just weeks before over 700 dancers graced the Bryce Jordan Center’s floor.

Instead of capturing the 46-hour spectacle through an Onward State photographer’s lens this time around, I was lucky enough to be on the floor for the event’s duration in a more unique role. While I left my traditional camera at home this time, I brought along a disposable camera for a smaller, more traditional option to capture THON’s happenings throughout the no sitting, no sleeping affair.

Let’s take a look back at THON Weekend through the lens of a disposable camera. From start to finish, Ryan and I filled nearly two full strings of film to grasp the unforgettable moments around us.

We entered Holuba Hall to receive our dancer bibs and shirts about two hours before dancers were set to stand.

Anticipation and adrenaline were high, but nerves for the weekend started to kick in.

We started our trek by crossing University Drive en route to our dwelling place for the next 46 hours. Committee and family members flooded the BJC’s walkways to greet us through the patented human tunnel.

The BJC began to fill with both dancers and spectators alike as Ryan and I embraced our final minutes of sitting. We placed our belongings in uniquely designed lockers created by our two Dancer Relations committee members.

Three… two… one… Dancers stand! Ryan and I jumped up promptly at 4 p.m., and we were off and running.

Nothing signals the start of THON Weekend like the first Line Dance!

Just as the initial wave of excitement began to flee us, Billboard Music Award-winning band Walk The Moon electrified the THON stage. Hits like “Shut Up And Dance” and “One Foot” kept the vibes rolling at the BJC.

As the first night rolled on, Ryan’s friends from his business fraternity Phi Gamma Nu helped keep his spirits high.

Our Dancer Relations committee member Sophia provided no shortage of support. She advised us to stretch continuously, which paid off as we headed into Sunday.

Activities including Slides of Strength and a surprise visit from Rita’s were nice additions, too.

It’s tough to choose a highlight from the weekend, but the THON Pep Rally was undoubtedly one of the event’s brightest moments. Men’s gymnastics took home the crown with an acrobatic routine, but sounds from the Blue Band and encouragement from Pat Kraft made it feel like Ryan and I were back in Beaver Stadium.

Afterward, DJ Dosk put on an epic set filled with EDM hits (shoutout Evan Mancini).

Saturday night into Sunday morning proved to be our most challenging stretch of all. Without a steady stream of live performances, our eyes became heavy after hitting a wall three-quarters of the way in.

However, a much-needed visit from our mom, ice baths, and silent disco time allowed us to keep our minds off our fatigue.

After a long 46 hours, we were both reminded of the true meaning of THON thanks to Family Hour during Sunday’s closing precession.

With that, we sat 46 hours later following what we concluded to be the best weekend of both of our Penn State journeys.

While this was my last THON as a fourth-year student and Ryan’s first as a first-year participant, we’ll cherish these memories as siblings for a lifetime.

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About the Author

Shannon Smith

Shannon is a sophomore majoring in advertising and minoring in DMTA and sports studies. She is a part of the Onward State visual staff and a contributor for Onward States's podcast, Podward State. She is from Long Island, New York and is a die-hard New York Giants fan. To send her your favorite TikTok dance, follow @shann_smith31 on Twitter or @shannon_smith31 on Instagram.

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