**This blog posted has been updated from its original posting on February 14, 2012**
Observing our world from the middle-aged cheap seats, I can recite a litany of reasons to not love what I see. School shootings, freak and destructive storms, crazy political rancor – it can all make a gal a little despondent. However, in the spirit of this upcoming Valentine’s Day, I would like to instead share that hope – and youth – springs eternal and is most certainly thriving in a place that has taken a few hard hits of late: State College, PA.
Yes, you’ve heard quite a bit of negative rhetoric about Penn State. I don’t need to rehash any of the scandal or heartache. But what you may not know is that this next weekend (February 15 – 17, 2013) something will happen at Penn State that is nothing short of remarkable. Thousands of students will stay awake and on their feet for 46 hours straight; all united in working toward the sole purpose of supporting the fight against pediatric cancer.
A bit of background: THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. That’s right: all STUDENT-LED. The THON website notes that back in 1973 the first dance marathon raised $2,000. Now, forty years, THON encompasses over 15,000 student volunteers, 700 dancers, and has raised more than $89 million, benefiting The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
Our son Jimmy, who is actively involved in THON, implored us two years ago to come to State College and see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. I must admit that I was expecting to observe an enthusiastic but perhaps a bit of a ragtag frenetic jumble of students running around; dancing and singing to current hip hop tunes. Something maybe equivalent to Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney’s “let’s put on a show.” I was astounded to instead be greeted by an organized event machine, much more akin to a professional telethon. The Bryce Jordan Center, with a capacity of 16,000, was filled with not just the THON volunteers, but also thousands of additional students and supporters, all standing – never sitting – and cheering for the dancers.
It was an electrifying scene, all accomplished through the love of fifteen thousand student volunteers.
This year, as Valentine’s Day approaches, I’m reminded that these students are once again working diligently and preparing for THON 2013; steadfast in their belief that they will help find a cure for pediatric cancer. I’m beyond proud to offer a little shout to our son Jimmy who was selected this year to be one of those 700 enthusiastic dancers. We’ll be traveling back to State College to cheer him on and support the cause.
Happy Valentine’s Day Happy Valley; best of luck this coming THON 2013 weekend. And, of course, Happy Valentine’s Day to you too Jimmy – thanks for everything that you, and your thousands of student friends, will be doing “For The Kids.”
If you’re so inclined, perhaps in celebration of this year’s Valentine’s Day and in lieu of that box of chocolates or dozen roses, you might consider making a donation to THON 2013 (FYI, under organizations, our son Jimmy dances on behalf of “Penn State Lion Scouts”).
Additionally for everyone who comments on this blog today, my husband Greg and I will make a $1 donation to THON 2013.
**UPDATE**: THON 2013 was a HUGE success! Was life-changing to see all those students putting themselves through an amazing, grueling, 46 hour experience. In the end, the total raised surpassed $12 MILLION – a new record. THANK YOU everyone who supported this wonderful event – FOR THE KIDS!
Barbara Kram saysFebruary 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm
Way to go, Jimmy. I know you lit the place on fire! (Only metaphorically, of course). Always proud of you.
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Jacs Henderson saysFebruary 16, 2013 at 11:33 am
What an amazing event Kimba, it is wonderful to see such massive support for this positive cause – it is things like this that swing the path of the universe. I wish them all a fabulous weekend and special wishes to Jimmy 🙂
Auntie Gail saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm
<b>Dance on Master James – very proud of you.</b>
Thanks for the great post Kim. Safe travels to all.
Christina saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 1:20 pm
That is *amazing*–thank you so much for sharing! I've never actually been out to State College, but this resonates with me, since I live in Pennsylvania (closer to Philadelphia).
I hope you enjoy your stay in State College and that the movement raises awareness above and beyond expectation!
Andrea Hameed saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 1:01 pm
Absolutely wonderful blog. Thanks so much. Really enjoyed it.
Gladys Diaz saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 12:46 pm
What a wonderful way to make a difference! Thanks for sharing with us!
Kathi Casey saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 11:51 am
Jimmy is one enthusiastic kid! Wonder where he gets that from?!
Good luck to Jimmy and all the other dancers and thanks for showing us that we have so much to look forward to. Your generation is one that will seek and find cures for diseases, bring hope to the weary and bring us closer to World Peace. Keep up the good work!
Lori Rinehart saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 11:12 am
You are amazing so it is no wonder Jimmy is too! Good luck to the dancers. Good luck to you!!! Sending love and light!
Ned saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 10:13 am
Morgan saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 10:02 am
This is wonderful- inspiring to see college kids work to improve the lives of others at a time when people seem to stay so focused on themselves. Your son sounds wonderful, and he has a pretty great mom too!
Danielle saysFebruary 15, 2013 at 9:53 am
Thanks for sharing this great event with us Kim and for raising such an extraordinary young man! So proud of you both!!
Chris Vordenbaumen saysFebruary 11, 2013 at 9:07 pm
I am so proud of Jimmy and all the kids at PSU. This is an unbelievable endeavor with such promising hope for the future! Love will definitely be in the air, especially for all the you kids who will someday benefit. Give a Texas size hug to Jimmy for us!!!
Chery Schmidt saysFebruary 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm
HI Kim I am honored to leave you a comment here today. You must be so proud of your son 🙂 Thanks goes out to you and your husband as well for filling us in and Contributing for A Great Cause. Chery 🙂
Sarah Katherine saysFebruary 9, 2013 at 8:27 am
Yay Jimmy, I arranged my whole weekend around you, and couldn't be more excited. You and Cole are gonna be awesome-cant wait to see you!!! xoxoxoxoxo
Vicki saysFebruary 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm
I'm so excited to be attending THON this year & support Jimmy in all his hard work..& fun…for another successful fundraiser. Too bad he's so shy & will not be on front lines (NOT!!) but I bet he'll see his grandma rooting him on. Love, love, love this guy! See you all soon.
Nancy saysFebruary 8, 2013 at 9:32 pm
What a Great Event! Thank you for sharing!
AnneMarie Stinson saysFebruary 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm
Lots of Love in Happy Valley…Great Charity. Thanks for keeping Thon alive.
Patty saysFebruary 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm
Appreciate your kind words about Penn State. It is a wonderful school and town.