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We Found Love…

THON is amazing because it brings people together for a worthwhile cause.  Many create and maintain lifelong friendships.  But, for some, their relationship goes much deeper than that and they find themselves falling in love because of their shared involvement in THON.

Jessica and Sheil

I was a Communications Captain for THON ‘05 and my committee was in charge of getting organizations that hadn’t previously sent dancers to THON involved. A friend and committee member of mine put a friend of his, Sheil, from THE LION 90.7 in touch with me because he knew that Sheil was looking to fundraise in hopes of dancing in THON that year. I met with Sheil and his potential dance partner one afternoon in the HUB for a quick meeting to get them ready for the next couple months of fundraising and explained how the dancer selection process would work. I sent them on their way and checked in a couple times via email as THON got closer.
 
So it wasn’t exactly love at first sight that day in the HUB, I’ll admit that. But Sheil and I did end up hanging out a bit right before graduation that year, and eventually both ended up moving to Baltimore shortly thereafter. And here we are, six and a half years later, living in Philly as newlyweds.
Mike and Katie

Myself (2005 Morale Overall) and my wife Katie Cocco (formerly Katie Clark—  one of my Morale Captains in 2005) met through THON, fell in love, got married on campus at Penn State in 2008 and still living happily ever after in New Jersey with our Morale dog Sherman!  We still volunteer for THON and Four Diamonds today and have been back to THON every year but one since we graduated.
Scott and Julie
I saw a tweet about couples that met through THON and immediately said “that’s us!” to my girlfriend, Julie Zimmerman. I think it’s great that the social impact of THON extends so far beyond the event itself, and that it’s being recognized publicly. Our relationship would have never been possible without THON bringing us together, so we’re both very thankful for that.
Julie and I met through THON in 2008, during each of our junior years. We were on two different morale committees, and our committees were paired up during what I believe to be the first year of “overlapping moralers.” I loved this idea, and it really did work! Anyway, Julie and I met briefly at a pizza party with our dancers, to get to know them before THON weekend. We were introduced by my friend Arthur Lim (we were on the same Morale committee the previous year), and from there we would occasionally say hello to one another in passing; nothing amounted to anything at first. 
After THON weekend, Julie hosted a formal for her committee at her apartment. Almost as a joke, Arthur invited me to be his “date” and I accepted the invitation. At the party Julie and I hung out for a while, and took a picture together because I said I wanted a picture with a fellow Jewish student. Again, from here we continued to just see each other every so often downtown and would always say hello; well acquainted, but nevertheless connected by THON.
A year or so later during Arts Fest 2010, post-graduation, Julie and I happened to run into each other at Inferno downtown; a friend invited me to go and I almost didn’t even show up. Once I did, I immediately saw Julie and we hung out for the whole night. Over the next couple weeks we talked a lot, and decided to give dating a try. Best decision we’ve ever made; it’s been over a year now and to say we’re happy wouldn’t do the emotion justice. Love is a beautiful thing, and having THON as the tie that binds us together is something we always talk about. What if we both weren’t on Morale? What if I didn’t decide on a whim to show up to a formal for a committee that wasn’t even my own? All questions that are irrelevant, because my love for THON and the people involved with it are what drove me to go in the first place.
THON is an incredible thing to be a part of. The beauty of THON is that you give not just money to help children in need, but a portion of yourself. A piece of your soul that will be forever impacted by the children, the families, and of course the people that make your experience what it is along the way. THON brings out the best in people, and ultimately I think that’s what makes our relationship so special. THON enabled Julie and I to show each other the best parts of ourselves; no other student organization in the world has the power to do that.
Zach and Hannalore

Our story starts in the Fall of 2003 when Hannalore, a morale captain, interviewed Zach, a potential moraler, for her team.  “Who is this guy,” she thought, as the larger-than-life senior chatted his way onto her morale team.  We were both seniors at the time, Hannalore being a 4-year THON devotee, and Zach being a first-time THONer.  Zach, ever the charmer, showed up to the first morale meeting 10 minutes late with 2 boxes of Pokey Sticks from Gumby’s.  “Sorry I’m late,” he grinned as the team applauded with excitement, “but I thought people might be hungry.”  Not to be outdone, Hannalore came prepared to the next meeting with candy for her team… but Zach showed up 5 minutes late with a pan of brownies that he had baked himself.  And a gallon of milk.  Hannalore was stunned.  Who was this guy? 
 
Over the next six months we spent hours together preparing for THON… countless hours preparing for Mail Call, planning activities and brainstroming ways to keep dancers distracted for 48 hours.  As the months passed we became great friends and the following April we went on our first date, Zach’s senior Navy Ball.  We’ve been together ever since… Zach is an officer in the Navy and Hannalore is a lawyer.  We celebrated the birth of our son, Cooper, on February 8th of this year and our 5 year anniversary on August 5th.  We are certainly living happily ever after, and it’s all because of THON. 
Kathryn and Nick

My boyfriend, Nick Trone, and I met through the THON independent organization Ohana. We began dating shortly after THON 2011, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m so thankful to have had him by my side when I got emotional during the last four hours. It was then I realized how lucky I was to have found him. When he held my hand during THON weekend, he also held my heart. Seven months later, he still does. 
 
Cynthia and Greg

Greg and I met at a wedding in Feb. 2003, during my freshman year at Penn State.  I had traveled home that Valentine’s Day weekend to attend the wedding, about 2 and half hours from the campus.  Even though Greg had already attended a local community college and established his career, he became an unofficial “Penn Stater” that following year, making the 3-hour one-way trip to visit me almost every weekend.  He, too, fell in love with Penn State, just as I had so long ago.  When it was time for THON weekend that year, I couldn’t wait for him to witness this incredible event that I had begun participating in the year before.  As an elementary education major, I was highly involved in a campus club called Student Pennsylvania State Education Association, or Student-PSEA.  Each year, we raised several thousand dollars for THON through our various fundraisers and canning trips.  We had four dancers and many other supporting members attend THON each year.  The family we sponsored at that time lived in Harrisburg and welcomed us into their lives open heartedly.  They were grateful for the Four Diamonds Fund and the work that our organization had done to support their daughter’s battle with pediatric cancer.  The mother was a teacher herself, and the daughter who was battling cancer when I first started getting involved was in remission by the time I graduated!

My sophomore year, Greg got involved with THON as much as he could, supporting my club’s fundraising efforts, generously donating to the cause, and of course, attending the event to support the dancers and Four Diamonds families.

During the following year, we were both just as excited about the event as ever.  What made this year different, however, was that I would be participating as a dancer.  As I was busy preparing my mind and body for the strenuous weekend, Greg was secretly planning his surprise marriage proposal.

THON 2005 finally arrived, and as much as I had tried to sleep the night before, my excitement and anticipation had kept me awake most of the night.  I knew that it would take a lot of determination and willpower, and nearly a miracle to keep my body going during the entire 48-hour event.  The Friday afternoon preparation events and that evening’s kick-off went very smoothly.  The 2005 Penn State Dance Marathon was off to a great start.  The dancers, fellow PSU students, supporters, families, and Four-Diamonds kids were having a great time.  Sometime near the evening hours on Saturday, my body was starting to shut down and I was beginning to worry how I would make it through.  Then something very unexpected happened.  My name was announced to report to the stage immediately.  “Why?  What’s going on?” I kept asking my fellow dancers.  No one seemed to know.  As I was escorted up onto the stage, I noticed a t-shirt covering the computer screen for the projector.  I was asked to come to center stage, and that’s when Greg appeared, holding a box with a ring in one hand and the microphone in the other.  I was awestruck, but of course I said yes.

Before this big adrenaline rush, I remember my feet hurting incredibly badly and the pain starting to creep up into my legs.  I remember feeling so tired that I felt numb and I caught myself falling asleep standing up a couple of times.  After the proposal, I was wide awake, my feet felt great, and I was ready to dance the night away.

During the early morning hours Sunday morning, things began to get difficult again, but I made it through until the final hours.  The last few hours were just as energizing as ever, and the finale made all of the pain worthwhile.  THON 2005 was a huge success. Not only had we touched the lives of so many children, changing their lives for the better, but I was about to turn another chapter in my own life as well.
Happy Valentines Day to everyone!  WE THON IN THREE!