College Traditions: THON Weekend at Penn State

College Traditions: THON Weekend at Penn State

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, commonly referred to as THON, is a three-day Dance Marathon that takes place every February at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, United States with the purpose of raising money and providing emotional support to children and families in order to combat pediatric cancer. It was started in 1973 by the university’s Interfraternity Council, and in its first year, more than $2,000 was raised, with 39 couples dancing for 30 hours straight. Today, it is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, by involvement and revenue with $13,343,517.33 having been raised at the 2014 event. The money that is raised is donated to The Four Diamonds Fund, a charity devoted to defeating pediatric cancer through research and caring for patients at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. 74% of funds are transferred to an experimental therapeutics fund while 12% of funds are used for patient and family support. In 2011, the Four Diamonds Experimental Therapeutics Endowment was funded to a level which enabled the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital to recruit two physician scientists to the Four Diamonds research team. More than 15,000 students get involved in THON each year, organizing it and raising funds with the rallying cry, “FOR THE KIDS!”.