Dance Marathon arrives at Penn State
STATE COLLEGE — Penn State basketball coach Patrick Chambers had to leave campus for a road game, but he had a big check to drop off first.
THON, the annual dance marathon fundraiser for pediatric cancer research, means so much to the Nittany Lions coach that he dropped off a $14,200 check before the grueling event even started on Friday evening.
Forty-six straight hours of grooving, line dancing and two-stepping for more than 700 dancers finally will end at 4 p.m. Sunday. The fundraiser — officially the IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon — is billed as the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Chambers and his team could not attend this year because the Nittany Lions were leaving Friday night for a game Sunday at Michigan. But he did promise to donate $10 for every student who attended Thursday night's home game, a 74-72 loss to Iowa. The game drew 1,420 students.
The coach said he and his wife, Courtney, wanted to make a “powerful statement.”
“THON has just blown me away, it's a phenomenal event,” Chamber said. “We are very fortunate to have three young children and they are all healthy, so I'm very lucky.”
THON has raised more than $89 million over almost three dozen years for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. The event took in a record $10.68 million last year.
About 4,000 volunteers are involved with putting on the show at the Bryce Jordan Center, transforming the home court of the Nittany Lions into a sprawling dance floor. A total of 15,000 volunteers are involved in year-round fundraising efforts.
The buildup culminates with an emotional THON weekend, which draws cancer survivors, patients and their families. Hours before the music was to start Friday, THON overall chairman Will Martin said preparations were proceeding on schedule while student volunteers in T-shirts and shorts hurriedly pieced together sets, lighting and speakers.
Chambers, who shaved his head in support of THON in another fundraising effort, spoke at the event last year. Even though he's comfortable on the arena floor — he's in his second year as the Nittany Lions head coach — the moment was overwhelming.
“I was nervous last year when I looked up and looked around. That was powerful to me, for me. I'm sure it was for my team. That's stuck with me since.”
Former assistant football coach Jay Paterno, son of the late former head coach Joe Paterno, and current head football coach Bill O'Brien are among the expected speakers at this year's dance marathon.
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.