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Cranberry women take part in PSU fundraiser

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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Elexa Baron, left and Lauren Hoyt, participated in THON, a 46-hour dance marathon at Penn State University that raises money for pediatric cancer.

Elexa Baron danced for 46 hours straight last weekend but was more exhausted in the following days.

“It's later in the week when it catches up with you,” said Baron, 22, of Cranberry, a Penn State University student who was one of 707 dancers in the Penn State Dance MaraTHON, commonly known as THON.

Since 1977, the dance has raised more than $101 million for the fight against pediatric cancer.

This year's dance raised $13.34 million — a record.

It is the largest student fundraising event in the United States. The money goes to the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Baron, a senior who plans to attend veterinary school next year, has been involved in THON for all four years she's been at Penn State.

This was the first year that she danced.

“It's an incredibly long time. It is difficult and challenging. It is not really dancing sometimes. You are just moving around the whole time,” Baron said.

About 15,000 people attend the event, which is held at Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center in University Park. Most do not dance. Yet nearly all have been involved in planning and fundraising for the event.

Lauren Hoyt, 21, of Cranberry, got involved as a family tradition. Her older sister, Kaitlin Hoyt, participated in THON as a student at Penn State, and her mother, Amy Hoyt, danced in it when she was a student.

“It keeps getting better and better,” said Lauren Hoyt, a senior majoring in public relations who volunteers as a media manager.

Hoyt is also involved in the event for personal reasons. Her cousin, Lee Myers of New Castle, died from cancer in 2009 at 24.

“I was determined to do something for him,” Hoyt said.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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