NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Two Penn State New Kensington students will join more than 700 other Penn State students on the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center at the University Park campus for the annual IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, known more widely as THON. The 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping event is set for Feb. 17-19.
New Kensington students Nic Hill and Angelena Dove will represent the campus and the campus THON team during the world’s largest student-run philanthropic weekend, which benefits Four Diamonds and the fight against pediatric cancer.
“I THON so that families going through this don’t have to worry about paying for their child’s treatment,” said Hill, a biomedical engineering technology student at the campus.
Dove, a biobehavioral health major and other New Kensington THON dancer, echoed similar sentiments.
“I THON for the children and their families so they have proper resources to get through a challenging time and never have to see a bill,” said Dove.
According to the organization’s website, Four Diamonds was founded in 1972 by Charles and Irma Millard in honor of their son Christopher, who battled cancer. Shortly before his passing, Christopher “wrote a story about a great knight who sought out the four diamonds of courage, wisdom, honesty and strength, in order to be released from the grips of an evil sorceress. These diamonds symbolized the attributes that Christopher’s family believed were necessary to overcome cancer.”
Dove and Hill both related to at least one of the diamonds in Christopher’s story.
“Out of the four diamonds, I resonate most with courage,” said Dove. "I knew that taking on the THON Primary Chair position this year was going to be difficult. Without courage, I do not think New Kensington would have succeeded as much as we did this year.”
Hill added, “I believe I resonate with strength more because I’ll put anything I’m doing on hold just to make sure someone has someone to talk to or have someone they can lean on when no one else would.”
Both students have been involved in THON for a number of years; Hill has been part of the THON campus team for five years, and Dove has been part of THON efforts for three years, although being a THON dancer has been a goal for much longer.
“I have wanted to be a dancer ever since I was about 6 years old,” said Dove. “I started to learn what THON was at a very young age, and ever since it has been a goal to accomplish. Also, I want to stand out of respect for families who are still fighting or may have lost the battle to cancer."
Hill, who was a THON dancer in the 2021 virtual THON event, looks forward to being able to have the full experience as a dancer during the in-person weekend marathon.
“I have been preparing since late November by cutting out sugar, caffeine, fast food and started working out a lot to feel physically and mentally ready,” said Hill, who also cited some of his favorite past THON memories as being able to dress up as the character Captain Jack Sparrow from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies to the excitement of many Four Diamonds families.
THON: The Main Event
The University’s year-long efforts culminate in the annual THON weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. Friday and runs through 4 p.m. on Sunday. In addition to supporting the dancers, spectators can expect lots of activities including musical acts, stories from Four Diamonds families, a pep rally and the big reveal of the year’s fundraising total.
This year’s fundraising total for New Kensington and the other participating Penn State units will be revealed at the conclusion of the weekend. Leading up to event weekend, the New Kensington THON team has already raised more than $10,000 for this year’s total.
THON has raised more than $204 million through the University-wide collective efforts of more than 16,000 students.
To support THON online and credit the New Kensington campus efforts, visit the New Kensington THON page.