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What Keeps Us Dancing All Night? The Line Dance of Course!

The Pittsburgh Magazine rated THON as the best all-night dance party of 2011! Read on to learn more about the Line Dance, that keeps us moving for the entire 46 hours!

Imagine a packed sports arena, more than 11,000 people in attendance…all dancing in unison. For those who have attended THON this is a common occurrence and for those who haven’t, well you’re missing out!

When the Bryce Jordan Center fills with 700 student dancers, thousands of students volunteers, Four Diamonds families, and THON supporters the energy can pretty much be felt all the way across campus. For 46 hours we dance, sing, jump, and celebrate together in support of the dancers, the families and the children. An incredibly important part of the 46 hours, the THON Line Dance, recreated each year, unifies this diverse crowd and is one of the most iconic features of the weekend. Performed once an hour, the Line Dance keeps the 700 dancers moving and the crowd cheering. 

 THON’s Line Dance is different from traditional line dances like the electric slide or a country ho-down.  A tribute to the past year, the lyrics touch upon pop culture, current events, sports, Penn State, and THON. You will frequently hear a few Ohio State puns or Justin Bieber jokes strewn throughout the 5 minute dance. The motions of the Line Dance are relatively simple so that anyone and everyone can perform it, but are also purposeful. “All the motions are thought out to try and target the essential muscles that are most tired on the dancers. Anything from big arm stretches to hamstring and ankle stretches, the Line Dance movements always have the dancers best interests in mind,” notes Jaci Meyer, the THON 2011 Line Dance Coordinator.

 I can definitely notice the energizing boost I get every time I hear “Morale Captains to the staaage!!” When the Line Dance is over it’s like a whole new wave of emotion, strength and energy has washed over me and I think the dancers would agree. “I first realized how much the Line Dance was helping me late Saturday night when the hours of standing were finally starting to hit my body,” comments Noelle Smith, a THON 2011 Dancer. “I overemphasized each moment and felt incredible throughout the whole dance.”

Even though Sunday afternoon the Line Dance is performed one last time, it is never the end of the dance. I turn to the Line Dance throughout the year when I’m having a mental block while studying or am just down about something. Its lyrics, motions and memories have a special way of picking you up no matter where you are or how you’re feeling. So keep on dancin’ at your jobs, in your rooms and on the street because even though you might get some weird looks from your friends when you finish “I throw my hands up in the air sometimes saying aayyoo” with “FTKaaaayoo” it’ll make you feel awesome every time! 

Want to see the line dance in action? Visit the links below!

THON 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oIh7g15If3M

THON 2010: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL5IEM2GXsM

THON 2009: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtBIpb97WlU&feature=related

Filed under Best all-night Dance Party Dancing Line Dance Pittsburgh Magazine THON

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Family Night Out – A Chance to Share, Learn and Inspire

On June 7, 2011 several members of the THON 2012 Overall Committee traveled to the Penn State Hershey Medical Center to attend an annual event held for new Four Diamonds Pediatric Oncology patient families. Family Night Out is an opportunity for families of newly diagnosed children to come together for a night of education, fun and bonding. Many families have either never heard of THON or have never met a THON volunteer, so it gave the Overall Committee the chance to hear the families’ stories and meet the children as well as to share their own stories of THON.

It is so crucial that all families know they have the support of thousands of THON volunteers all year round, not just during the October to February fundraising months. To know someone is here for them during such a devastating time gives the families the strength they need to continue their fight with pediatric cancer. We asked a few members of the Overall Committee to share their thoughts about the event and you can read their answers below.

Anyone who has ever had the opportunity to talk to a child diagnosed with cancer will tell you how incredibly motivational they are, and events such as this give volunteers a chance to do just that. The children and their families are truly an inspiration for us and are the reason we do everything we do. They are the reason we THON. They give us our strength and will to fight. For them. For The Kids. For Their Futures.

 Please give a short description of this year’s Family Night Out:

 Family Night Out was a great event that displayed how THON truly is year round. It granted the volunteers an opportunity to spend some time with the children while their parents had alone time to discuss with some of the Hospital staff different aspects of what they are currently facing. We were able to help put a smile on the children’s faces, both patients and their siblings while also relieving their parents from having to stress about their children while they learned some new information. We also interacted with Family Specialist and Music Therapists and aided them in the activities they were leading. It was a great experience to see just how these specialists interact with the children; something we do not always get to take part in. - Gen Goldsmith, Morale Overall

What was your favorite part of the event?

My favorite part of the event was definitely getting to meet new Four Diamonds children, siblings, and their parents. All of the families I met displayed amazing courage and strength and only ensured to me that we must do all we can so one day, we can dance in celebration. - Becky Mayes, Special Events Overall

Do you think the families had a good time?

I think the families had a great time. It seems that some families find the strength in each other, and the volunteers, knowing that they are not alone in this fight.  These types of events provide a small and intimate setting for families and kids to get to know one another. - Elaine Tanella, Overall Chairperson

 Was there any family there whose story particularly touched you?

 I met two boys, Dustin and Bryce, who knew each other before being diagnosed from playing soccer together. They were both great friends and very supportive with each other but still showed the same energy and goofy nature that all younger boys do. They are both fairly new to THON and I am excited to see them at future events. - Kinjal Mathur, Entertainment Overall

I spoke to the Beavers and Carters very in depth at the end, and to see how close Dustin and Bryce have become, even only after a short time, it was amazing. The energy both boys possessed as well showed me that cancer can bring down the body, but it cannot touch the soul. When Bryce said “mom, can we have a sleepover because Dustin and I both have cancer…and we love video games and sports”, I was nearly brought to tears, but laughed instead. It was such a funny thing to hear from a young kid, but was incredibly touching. The fact that both of these boys never stopped talking about how they play sports and love being active proved that although they are in an extremely tough time, they both are looking past their problems and have faith in themselves and us. - Tommy Scharnitz, Hospitality Overall

Why do you think it is important to hold events like this for families?

Some of the best support, I think, comes from families helping families and being able to relate to one another.  The bonds and connections that I’ve seen some families form at events over the past few years with my involvement are truly amazing.  Some families are so close that you might think they are cousins or brothers/sisters.  Cancer tries to beak people and break families apart, but it doesn’t realize it can bring people together. - Elaine Tanella, Overall Chairperson

 Do you feel that is important for THON members to try to attend Four Diamonds Fund events?

It’s extremely important for THON members to try to attend Four Diamonds Fund events because it goes even further to bring meaning to the word that cancer is a year-round battle.  THON and The Fund are one family together united in the fight, and conquering childhood cancers. One would not be nearly as strong without the other. Cancer treatment is not just about the dose of medicine or the length of the regimen. It’s about treating the whole person and the whole family. Through these events, families are treated, and it also helps THON members to further realize what these families go through on a daily basis and how we can be there for them through this process. - Elaine Tanella, Overall Chairperson

Filed under FTK Family THON Ped pediatric cancer The The Four Diamonds Fund Penn State Hershey Hospital

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Focus on the Families

The families of the Four Diamonds Fund are the true inspiration and reason why we THON. In an effort to increase inspiration and the focus we put on the families of the Fund, we have created web-pages to share their stories! These personal web-pages showcase the families’ favorite activities, vacations, THON memories, and their message to you- the volunteers of THON! All of the information located within these web-pages came directly from the families through a questionnaire sent to all Four Diamonds Families. While viewing their web-pages, remember that together we will find a cure for pediatric cancer!!

As you visit THON.org make sure that you also check out the family stories for more inspiration from the families:

From the Beltz Family: “I find it ironic that YOU say WE are the inspiration….it really is 2 way.  It is the good in all of you that inspires families like us to take our situation, turn it around and give back to others that are in the same place we are.”

From the Ostott Family: “We’d like to tell you how ‘proud’ we are of ALL of you for all that you do to make THON such a success!! Your hard work, dedication and determination mean more to us than you could ever know.”

From the Kretz Family: “It is awesome that Penn State students through THON and The Four Diamonds Fund recognize the blessings they receive by being involved with these families. In turn the enthusiasm and hope given to the families from the Penn State students is irreplaceable.”

 

For The Kids, For The Families.

Filed under cancer family THON

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Easy Ways to Stay FTK This Summer

THON Weekend may be over, but THON is a yearlong event! Because pediatric cancer doesn’t take a break, so why should we?  Here are some simple ways for your to continue to support our cause this summer:

Go see a baseball game- What’s better than spending a summer night sitting at the ballpark watching America’s favorite past time?  Spending the night at the ballpark while helping in the fight against pediatric cancer! June 3rd is the THON Pirates game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA.  Tickets are selling out fast so make sure you get yours before they are gone.  Visit www.pirates.com/pennstate or call (412) 325-4928 to get your tickets today.  And be on the look out for the date of the THON Phillies game that will be announced later this summer. 

Dust off your THON playlist- It’s time to break out that THON playlist you so painstakingly put together the week before THON.  Don’t have a THON playlist? No worries! Just put together a list of songs from your favorite THON videos, or choose songs you remember hearing throughout THON Weekend.  Whether you’re sitting by the beach or by the pool, nothing will make you smile more than some upbeat songs that remind you of the difference you’re making in the life of a child. 

Pack your THON gear- Make sure you bring along your THON gear when you’re packing for vacation this summer.  Take a picture of you wearing your THON gear and send them to thonaroundtheworld@gmail.com to show us how you are helping to spread awareness for THON’s fight against pediatric cancer.  Our favorite pictures will be posted on Facebook in the THON Around the World album and on the THON Photobase. If you’re summer wardrobe is a little lacking the THON Store has got you covered with everything from shorts and t-shirts to baseball caps and flip flops.  But remember orders are only shipped once a month during the summer, so make sure you don’t leave your summer shopping until the last minute!

Enjoy some lemonade- The fundraising window for organization’s to raise money for THON may be closed, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help to raise funds for pediatric cancer.  Be on the look out throughout the summer for Alex’s Lemonade Stands that help to raise funds for kid’s with cancer.  If you can’t find one, start one yourself! And if you’re not thirsty, head over to Rita’s Water Ice and enjoy some of their delicious Alex’s Lemonade water ice.  (If you stop by the Rita’s in State College, make sure you thank them for their continued support of THON!)

No matter how you decide to stay in the THON spirit this summer remember to be safe, be smart, and keep us updated! Let us know how you continue to support THON’s efforts throughout the year, and maybe you’ll be featured on THON’s Facebook, Twitter, or even in the THON Blog. 

One day we’ll dance in celebration. Until then we dance for life!

 

 

Filed under Summer 2011 THON pediatric cancer Alex's Lemonade Stands FTK

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THON is learning who you are and what is important to you. THON is feeling like a kid again. THON is dancing. THON is pain. THON is wanting to sleep. THON is wanting to give up, but knowing you can’t. THON is the children. THON is the spirit in them. THON is seeing a child with a baldhead and a big smile that makes you feel guilty for complaining your feet hurt. THON is the chemo that makes the kids cry. THON is families who suffer year-round. THON is hearing their stories. THON is the tears you can’t hold back.

Filed under THON

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Family Friday

The Becca Allen Family

 

 

Hi I am Liz Allen, from the Allen family and this is my little sister’s story.

My little sister’s name is Rebecca or as we call her Becca. When she was born she seemed ok but after a while she would get these really bad ear infections.I noticed she would also bruise very easily. My mom took her to the pediatrician and they said she would be fine as long as they gave her medicine. It would work for a little while but then the ear infections would come back even worse so the pediatrician sent my mom, dad and Becca to the Hershey Medical Center.

I was in school at the time so the person in charge came up to me and my other sister Steph and told us that we would be staying a little later than the other kids. One of the teachers told me that my sister was sick and she had cancer. I was only 11 so I didn’t really know what was going on. I knew what cancer was but I didn’t know how bad my sister had it and how badly it would effect my family. Later that day, I was picked up and we went right to the hospital to see my sister.

I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I walked in I felt really awkward and out of place. We went up to seventh floor with my newborn baby sister Amanda. She was born just a week before Becca was diagnosed. After they ran a few tests we found out she had ALL or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Leukemia cells are abnormal cells that cannot do what normal blood cells do. The abnormal cells are immature white blood cells that cannot help the body fight infections.

When I first walked into the room she was hooked up to so many tubes and wires it was scary. I didn’t know what was happening to her. After a day she came home but we had to rush her back to stay for two weeks. She fought with all her heart and I honestly was happy that my sister able to beat the Leukemia. She has been in remission for 5 years.

If my family hadn’t been a part of the Four Diamonds Fund we would have never been able to pay for the treatments. Our family heard of a thing called THON. We have been going since 2006 and I wouldn’t miss it for the world! I love the feeling of going up to Happy Valley to see our college friends and get the support and love from people we never met. The best thing about THON is that I can never actually find my sisters haha. Actually I LOVE the whole family aspect of it. THON makes me feel like we are all a big family. And that’s exactly what we needed at the time and I never will get tired of it!!


 

Filed under Family Friday Family of the Week FOTW Becca Allen THON

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Suzanne Graney, Director of The Four Diamonds Fund

Last week, the THON Blog had the exciting opportunity to talk with Suzanne Graney, current Director of The Four Diamonds Fund at Hershey Medical Center. We talked about her history with The Fund, some of her goals as Director, and we asked her to share a little about herself so everyone in the THON community can get to know her a little better. Suzanne is a great asset to all of us here at THON and we truly appreciate all she does us, The Fund, and most importantly the kids. So read on, and learn a little bit more about Suzanne!!

How did you get involved with The Fund?

I met folks from the development office at Hersey last year. I worked for a public broadcaster and we were exploring doing an education project together and through that project I met who is now my boss and we started having conversations about positions that were open at Hershey and kind of honed in on the Four Diamonds piece that that was available. It certainly grabbed by heart and my interest and I was lucky enough to be selected to do this work.

What did you do before you got were selected as Director?

I was the director of Development and Marketing for WIPF, which is a public broadcasting and public media company. It has a public television station, a public radio channel, and a regional magazine. Prior to that, I was the Director of Communications for a United States Congressman.

 And which congressman was that?

Todd Platts.

Have you ever done anything with philanthropy work before this?

I worked in the non-profit sector for quite some time, most often in the communications realm, so telling stories about the people that were being impacted through philanthropic giving. I am an avid volunteer in my community, and believe that the non-profit community really does make a community vibrant.

Speaking of community, where are you from?

I was born in Philadelphia, but we moved to central Pennsylvania and the Harrisburg region when I was fairly young so I consider myself a native of the Harrisburg Area.

Do you any specific goals as the Director of The Four Diamonds Fund, or any general directions you’re looking to take The Fund in?

One of the primary goals for me is to build a major gift program for The Four Diamonds Fund. So looking for individuals who are interested in supporting our work in a much larger scale then they have in the past, diversifying the funds for The Four Diamonds Fund. Another goal is to expand out community presence, making sure that everyone knows about The Four Diamonds Fund and the impact of our work here at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

What role do you play in the THON community?

Well I serve as a liaison to the Overall Committee and I work with them pretty frequently. I’m in very frequent communication with the Overall Chair (Kirsten Kelly) and meet on a more casual basis with the members of the Overall Committee but we’re all on email together quite frequently during the week.

What are you most looking forward to for this year’s THON Weekend from a Director’s POV?

I have attended THON before but I have never seen it from beginning to end so I’m looking forward to seeing the entire pace of THON this year.

What does “Together Without Limits” mean to you?

I don’t know that I’m going to be able to say it better than the Overall Committee said it, but I think it encapsulates the philosophy of together people can do anything and there isn’t a limit to the good we can do when we all put our energies in the same area.

How do you see the relationship between THON and The Fund developing and growing in the future?

One of my goals is to make sure that our relationship always remains strong. I think it’s in a great place right now. I would work to always making sure that is maintained and that we work together to celebrate our mutual successes and that we are always mutually keeping our focus on what the mission is.

Let’s wrap up with some fun questions. What’s your favorite color?

Red

Favorite sporting team?

Penn State Nittany Lions Football!

If you had to only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

1) Pizza
2)Seafood
3) Apple Pie


Filed under Suzanne Graney The Four Diamonds Fund THON Director

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Meet Megan Eslinger

Throughout THON’s 33 year partnership with The Four Diamonds Fund, one common theme has endured, and it is was drives THON’s 15,000 volunteers still today. For The Kids. The children and their families who receive treatment at Hershey Medical Center are our inspiration throughout the year, and so it is only appropriate that the THON Blog’s new friday feature will be Family Friday. Each Friday, we will share with you a story of a Four Diamonds Fund child to help remind the THON community exactly why we are here.

This Friday, we have the story of Megan Eslinger, FOTO’s THON child.

OUR STORY

On Friday, January 23rd, 2009 Our 18 month old daughter was diagnosed with A.L.L. (Acute Lymphoblast ic Leukemia)

This all started a few weeks ago with what we thought was a leg injury from climbing into a chair. She limped for a couple of days but the doctor found no serious injury. Then she stopped walking completely due to the pain in her leg. Then when she began to get fevers off and on with no other symptoms, the doctor ordered a blood test and X-ray. The results of those tests were the beginning of what can only be described as any parent’s worst nightmare. Having to rush her to the emergency room. There, more tests were done. Pediatricians began to break the news to us Thursday night of the likelihood of Megan having Leukemia but the tests Friday would tell us for sure. After the results came back Friday, they took a bone marrow sample and did a spinal tap to check for signs of it there and to also give her a dose of medication to treat her in the event that it had spread to the brain. (The doctors said it was unusual for this to happen) Saturday, the result of the spinal fluid was negative but as expected, her bone marrow was at least 90% Leukemia cells. Megan was put through so much those first few days. Over the weekend she was given lots of fluids, antibiotics, platelets and blood. They also performed surgery on Saturday to place an external catheter, Broviac, into her chest. All of this to prepare for the rigorous schedule of treatments to begin Monday, January 26th. The Doctors told us that this type of Leukemia has an 85% success rate and that she also has several things in her favor so they are very optimistic.

To read more about Megan, visit her website here.

Filed under Family Friday Family Four Diamonds Fund THON Pediatric Cancer