Penn State students gather in South Hills neighborhoods to raise money for THON
They stand on the edge of the busy four-lane highway wearing their craziest hats and prominently displaying their school name on their shirts.
From dawn to dusk on designated Saturdays each fall, thousands of college students from Penn State University gather on neighborhood curbs and sidewalks seeking donations in connection with the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, or THON, which raises funds for and awareness of the fight against pediatric cancer.
“You're getting up really early and dressing crazy. As long as you have in your head why you're doing it, you're going to feel good at the end of the weekend because you've helped a lot of kids,” said Liz Ducker, 20, a Penn State junior communications and media studies major and family facilitator with Ohana, a special-interest organization that raises money for THON. Ohana was started in 2008 by her brother, Mike Ducker Jr., she said.
Since 1977, THON has raised more than $101 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, its website states.
It was watching her brother's involvement in THON and desire to raise money to help children in need that led Ducker to attend Penn State, she said. Her sister, Melissa, a 2005 Penn State graduate, and Mike's wife, Katie, also were involved in THON. Katie even received support from the Four Diamonds Fund, Ducker said.
“It was because I saw the incredible things they were doing,” she said. “I knew that would be my college life.”
Ducker, a 2011 Baldwin High School graduate, began volunteering for THON her freshman year as a student at Penn State Altoona.
This year, Ducker's family once again has hosted members of Ohana as they visit Pittsburgh to “can,” or seek donations, on local streets. The first time, seven college students crowded into Mike and Maryanne Ducker's house. Then, there were 14. This weekend, another 14 students will pile into the Ducker family home for good food, fellowship and fundraising.
Saturday, the group will be in Baldwin Borough and along Route 51 seeking donations, Ducker said.
“Pittsburgh is always good to us,” Ducker said.
On each visit, members of Ohana hear stories from people who themselves survived cancer, she said. That's inspiring for the canners, who often brave the brisk temperatures to raise money on the streets.
Every dollar helps. Sometimes, though, there are big surprises. Last week, a man placed two $100 bills into a member's can, Ducker said.
On average, members of Ohana each collect between $300 and $350 in a weekend of canning, she said. After a day on the streets, they head back to their home for the night for a good meal and money counting, Ducker said.
Sunday, it's another morning of “canning” and then a three-hour drive back to State College.
Knowing that they've raised money for to help children is a great feeling, Ducker said.
“There's no feeling like it,” she said. “We say, ‘Cancer never stops, but neither do we.'”
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Jefferson Regional Foundation awards grants
- Child-care services in works at West Jefferson Hills
- Whitehall man plans rally to raise awareness of addiction, overdoses
- Brentwood officials plan rules for overgrown trees
- Bridge replacement to close section of Streets Run in Baldwin Borough
- Police investigating Baldwin Borough shooting