Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ten on Tuesday | THON Essentials

Three years ago, I was given the opportunity to stand awake and on my feet for forty-six hours straight. If you're not familiar with the Penn State Dance Marathon, you may be questioning why I call this an "opportunity." Each year, more than 15,000 student volunteers from all twenty Penn State campuses come together to make up what is the world's largest student-run philanthropy. A philanthropy that raised more than $10.69 for the Four Diamonds Fund, pediatric cancer patients and research last year. These volunteers serve a variety of functions - some serve as captains of committees like public relations or technology, others serve as members of the hospitality or entertainment committees. Other students participate in THON by joining an organization or fundraising as an independent dancer couple.

During my time volunteering for THON, it was as a student at Penn State's York campus. For two years, I gave the majority of my free time to fundraising for our organization - writing donation letters, canning on the side of local highways, and planning events. My fundraising efforts as a freshman allowed me the opportunity to dance in THON 2010, a weekend that I still consider the best of my life. Really, it's that great. Then, as a sophomore I chaired our organized alongside one of my best friends and together we were able to lead a group of students in raising more than $17,000, an accomplishment that I am still incredibly proud of.

As a junior, I could no longer afford Penn State's tuition and transferred to Millersville. While I enjoyed my two years at Millersville, I missed THON immensely and continue to miss it even now. That being said, I try to stay involved by donating to the organization and keeping in contact with several Four Diamonds families. While anyone is able to attend THON weekend, I will be unable to fly home for the event this year and so instead, I wanted to share with you what this organization is about. If you want to learn more, check out this video my organization made in 2011 or any of the videos created by the THON technology committee.

If you would like to make tax-deductible donation to THON, you can do so online.
If you choose to donate, I would love for you to credit Harrisburg or York for the amount.

This year, I have several friends who will be dancing, including my beautiful best friend and former family relations chair of our organization, Hana, who you might recognize from all the posts I've written about her (see herehere and here. Over the past few weeks, I have been texting her every time a bit of THON advice crossed my mind and so, as this weekend, THON weekend, quickly approaches, I thought a list of THON essentials would be a great last-minute packing list for her and the other dancers I know.

When you're getting ready to stand for forty-six hours in a bright, colorful and crowded gym, there are a lot of things you're going to need...

1 // Each dancer is assigned to a color wars color and for Hana that's green, a color she will likely wear for a majority of the weekend. Furthermore, dancers love to show their passion for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund and this shirt would allow Hana to do both.

2 // Sunglasses are important for dancers who will be spending two straight days under bright fluorescent lights. Between two THON weekends, I probably went through eight pairs of glasses that seem to get broken, dropped and lost every few hours. These affordable, fun sunglasses from Target would be a great choice for dancers.

3 // Fanny packs are definitely out of style except for two days of the year. Dancers are typically dressed in leggings, shorts or funny costumes - all without pockets. A fanny pack is the perfect place to keep Chapstick, gum, and tennis balls (a necessity for rubbing your aching feet!). While THON provides dancers with a small, dark blue one at the start of the weekend, having a a colorful fanny pack is definitely more fun.

4 // Great sneakers are an important part of surviving THON weekend, for obvious reasons. These bright and colorful ones are sure to fit in with the dancing crowd. 

5 // While dancers are sure to pack a real toothbrush and toothpaste for the weekend, I loved having these little Colgate Wisps. In my opinion, the hardest part of THON was dealing with the bathroom lines and that's saying a lot considering how bad your feet hurt by hour forty-six. These can be picked up at any supermarket or drugstore and help dancers feel refreshed without fighting for a sink. 

6 // Colorful socks are as necessary as colorful sneakers. And dancers should make sure they pack plenty - fresh socks feel great for tired feet.

7 // Color-wars themed shoelaces are also a fun addition. I kept bright orange laces in a pair of pink sneakers for weeks after I danced.

// Going a whole weekend without showering is hard especially with long hair. While dancers can wash their hair in a bathroom sink, the lines are long and the process uncomfortable. When I danced dry shampoo wasn't an option but I made sure that Hana put it on her packing list. 

9 // On a similar note, oil blotting sheets help dancers look their best without having to wait in line or fight for a bathroom sink. It's hard to look good for forty-six hours - my THON photos are proof of that. 

10 // Dealing with my hair and makeup was definitely the biggest hassle of THON weekend. I wish I had chosen my current hair style a few years ago, instead. Though Hana donated 12 inches of her hair to Wigs for Kids last week, she still has plenty & these non-tug elastic hair ties are perfect for the long weekend.

So tell me, had you ever heard of the Penn State Dance Marathon? Would you ever stand on your feet and awake for forty-six hours straight for a great cause?


  1. I love you :) and by the way, i'm using this pretty much as my packing list for the weekend, haha. thanks for all of your help throughout the weeks, you are an amazing friend :)

    1. I love you & I am so incredibly proud of you for everything you've done for THON.