College students across the country have taken a stand (literally) to fight pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases through record-breaking dance marathons.
On their feet for up to 46 hours, students from these universities join together, standing and dancing for the cause.
The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, more commonly known as THON, is held annually on campus at the Bryce Jordan Center. The event clocks in at 46 hours, making it the longest dance marathon in the country. Since 1973, Penn State has organized this year-long effort to raise money for a worthwhile cause, which culminates in the colorful THON weekend, contrasting against the usual dreary weather of State College, Pa., in February.
With the help of 15,000 volunteers, THON 2013 kicks off this Friday, Feb. 15, when over 700 dancers stand at 6 p.m. — they won’t sit again until 4 p.m. Sunday. The fundraising total is revealed at the end of the weekend; last year alone, THON raised $10,686,924.83.
The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), clocks in at 46 hours, making it the longest dance marathon in the country. Last year alone, THON raised $10,686,924.83 for the Four Diamonds Fund.
Since 1977, Penn State has paired with the Four Diamonds Fund to donate over $89 million — bringing in the most money of any collegiate dance marathon nationwide — to pick up costs where insurance companies leave off, helping families with children who are battling cancer.
In its first year, THON had only 78 dancers and raised a mere $2,136. At the end of 30 hours, only 17 dancers were still standing. The first song of choice? Jumping Jack by the Rolling Stones.
Overall THON Public Relations Chairperson Cat Powers stressed that the key to a dance marathon’s growth is spreading the mission.
“THON has found success in growing as an organization through inspiring volunteers through its strong connection to its mission,” Powers wrote in an email. “The mission is to provide emotional and financial support to the Four Diamonds families. However, most consider the emotional aspect of the mission to be the most crucial to the success of THON.”
“Students at Penn State develop strong bonds through the Adopt-A-Family Program, which pairs fundraising organizations with families of children undergoing pediatric cancer treatment,” Powers wrote. “The students care for each member of the family, helping to ensure that their battle with pediatric cancer has some relief and support along the way.”
Since its inception, THON has become the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, but other universities across the nation also host their own dance marathons, competing in both length and money raised. Where does your school stand?
• Clocking in at 36 hours is Indiana University’s Dance Marathon. Founded 21 years ago, students at Indiana University raise money for the Riley Hospital, generating funds for the Ryan White Infectious Disease Center. To date, the organization has raised almost $14 million.
• Standing for 32 hours, Rutgers University boasts the biggest student-run philanthropy in the state of New Jersey: Rutgers University Dance Marathon, or “DM.” In 15 years, Rutgers students have raised over $3 million for the Embrace Kids Foundation.
• 30 hours later, Northwestern University Dance Marathon has donated over $13 million to 30 different beneficiaries since 1975. Last year, 1,500 dancers they raised more than $1.1 million for the Danny Did Foundation and the Evanston Community Foundation.
• Gainesville’s own University of Florida is set to start its 19th annual dance marathon on April 13. At 26.2 hours, over 800 dancers raise money for Shands Hospital for Children. To date, University of Florida has raised over $5.3 million.
• Dance Blue, University of Kentucky’s annual dance marathon, has raised over $3 million for the University of Kentucky Pediatric Oncology Clinic over the past seven years. Raising $123,323.16 in its first year, DanceBlue broke the record for the most money raised in a first-year dance marathon.
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