Yough grad dances in Penn State THON fundraiser
By Stacey Federoff
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 4:54 p.m.
Colleen Babilya visited the 15,200-capacity arena at Penn State University and was shocked to find a line of students and supporters packing the place at 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday.
Later that weekend during the 46-hour Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, known as THON, a fundraising total of $12.37 million was revealed to the crowd, more than 4,000 volunteers and 700 dancers, including Babilya's daughter, Denise.
“We were so excited,” the 20-year-old sophomore and West Newton native said. The money is used to further pediatric cancer research and care for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.
Begun in 1977, THON is completely student-run and has raised more than $89 million for the fund, with this year's total on Feb. 17 larger than any other.
Denise Babilya, studying chemical engineering, helped raise funds as a freshman when she joined the Engineering and Applied Science Interest (EASI) House, a special-living option on campus where members live together on two floors of a dormitory.
She was enamored with the whirlwind weekend event, including time spent with children battling cancer who play with squirt guns and dance to the music alongside the students.
So, she befriended the group's THON chairwoman Alexis Rogers, a junior from southeastern Pennsylvania studying biology.
Last year, the organization raised more than $7,000 to guarantee two dancers for this year's event. Babilya, this year's THON chairwoman, was chosen to dance because of her involvement with the group, helping to raise about $8,800 this year.
She prepared to stand on her feet for the entire marathon by cutting any dependence on caffeine in January and maintained a regular exercise and sleep schedule.
The student-dancer said from the moment she entered the human tunnel to begin Friday night to the reveal Sunday afternoon, the time flew by, full of energy, sound and color.
“Everyone was really supportive, I appreciate that,” she said, including her parents Jeff and Colleen Babilya and siblings, Yough senior Hannah, Yough junior Michael, Yough freshman Paul and Penn State freshman Scott.
“She had the perseverance to keep doing it,” her mother said. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, then you'll make it through.”
Even though her daughter seemed delirious during the late-night visit, Colleen Babilya said she was glad the family shared the experience.
“It is wild,” she said, adding that when she graduated from Penn State in 1985, THON was much smaller, nothing like it is today.
Denise Babilya said it was worth it to see the joy expressed by the children battling cancer. Some look forward to the annual February weekend more than Christmas.
“You think, ‘This could be anybody's kids,' it could be your brother, it could be anyone … it's not fair,” she said. “We had to be strong for two days, but these families have to be strong every day.”
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-6660.
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.
- Arnold City man’s love of trains evident in woodworking
- Luminaries to light Herminie
- Sutersville post office service reduction to begin in 2014