Mt. Pleasant woman aids THON in raising more than $12M
This past weekend spelled the conclusion to a year-long effort by more than 15,000 Penn State University students to raise about $12.3 million to help fight all forms of pediatric cancer.
One of those students was Mt. Pleasant's Amanda Meshanski.
The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, also known as THON, is a campaign to raise awareness and money for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.
During the past 36 years, students have raised more than $89 million for the organization.
The event is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, according to the event's website, thon.com.
This is the third year Meshanski, 20, a junior majoring in industrial engineering at the university's main campus in State College, has taken part in the fundraising effort.
Two years ago, she was a member of the rules and regulations committee.
Last year, Meshanski was one of 700 dancers who were on their feet for the 48-hour event.
This year, she served as captain for the event's supply logistics committee, which maintains all in-kind donations except for food and monetary donations, and ensures committees and events have proper supplies donated and distributed throughout the year.
As the intra-committee inventory liaison, Meshanski organized multiple storage units and made sure all supplies were accounted for and accessible for smooth distribution.
She also helped other committees wherever she was needed.
“This year was nice due to the additional responsibilities that allowed me to individually make a difference during THON weekend while working with my co-captains to ensure things ran smoothly,” she said.
The year-long effort begins shortly after THON weekend each year.
Meshanski said she gives of her time for the kids.
“I enjoy being able to provide a weekend for the kids where they can step away from being cancer patients, as well as providing an opportunity for their families to temporarily ignore the stress that coincides with their child's battle with cancer,” she said. “Outside of THON weekend, I love the opportunity to provide families with support on a year-round basis, as their fights with cancer don't take a break.”
Each year, Meshanski said she takes away special memories from the event.
This year, she was able to speak with Four Diamonds Fund founder Charles Millard, who lost his son, Chris, to cancer in 1972.
“Mr. Millard is a complete inspiration to us student volunteers, as he was so selfless to use his loss to better the lives of thousands of future families and children fighting cancer,” she said. “It was inspiring to be able to enjoy this time with him and share in the great event that he helped create.”
Debbie and Joe Meshanski are proud of their daughter's efforts.
“I think it is just amazing that she is so dedicated and it's just so important for them to do what they can for these kids,” Debbie Meshanski said.
The Meshanskis said they support their daughter by attending the event each year and have been given a tour of the center and the inner workings of the event.
“It is just so uplifting for everyone who attends — from the students, to the parents to the faculty. By 9 a.m. Sunday, you cannot get into the 16,000-seat Bryce Jordan Center each year,” Debbie Meshanski said.
Lynn Springer of Mt. Pleasant Township has donated to THON for several years, the past three through Meshanski.
“I donate because I believe it is an awesome charity and I would hope that other people would care if I happened to have a child of my own who had cancer,” Springer said. “I think these students who run this philanthropy are amazing.”
Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.