Dancers reach halfway mark for THON 2024 at Penn State

Each year, THON raises millions of dollars for Four Diamonds, which supports the fight against childhood cancer.

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Sunday, February 18, 2024
Dancers reach halfway mark for THON 2024 at Penn State
Dancers reach halfway mark for THON 2024 at Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Dancers reached the halfway point on Saturday at Penn State's dance marathon, known as THON.

The event officially kicked off at the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State Friday night.

Students have been on their feet for about 24 hours as of Saturday afternoon, supporting the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

The weekend event is the culmination of a year-long effort by more than 16,000 Penn State students, creating a gigantic party with a purpose.

The THON is now a treasured tradition at the university.

As the clock struck 6 p.m. Friday, more than 700 dancers rose to their feet. They'll be dancing for 46 hours as part of the 52nd annual THON.

"When people come to Penn State, this is just one of those things that is such a big part of the community. It really unites everyone," said student William Clancy from Havertown.

Each year, THON raises millions of dollars for Four Diamonds.

The organization was founded to support children and their families in the fight against childhood cancer.

Julia Pagano is dancing for Penn State Brandywine with a special source of motivation.

"My brother Vinnie passed away from neuroblastoma when he was five and a half. I never, unfortunately, got the chance to meet him. I miss him every day and wonder what my life would look like if I had him," the student from Ridley Township explained.

Action News previously reported on Vinnie as he battled cancer and was treated at St. Christopher's Hospital in Philadelphia.

At the time, we spoke with Vinnie's mother Andrea Pagano, who is in State College during THON to support her daughter.

"I'm so excited and so proud that she's here to support, in memory of Vinnie and all the kids who are still fighting," the mother said.

This weekend is an opportunity for those kids to not worry about chemo and radiation, but to just be kids.

Carmen Guzman, a student from Lancaster, grew up coming to THON after being diagnosed with leukemia at 4 years old. She's now 15 years cancer free and this year, she's a dancer.

"Because of Four Diamonds and Penn State's THON, my parents never saw a single medical bill," said Guzman. "Because of Four Diamonds and THON, I'm still able to be here today."