By Brandon Koch and Ethan SanSoucie
FTK: For the Kids. If you are a high school student outside Pennsylvania, you probably don’t know how important FTK is. THON is an annual 46-hour dance marathon that was started by students at Pennsylvania State University in 1973. The goal of THON? To raise as much money as possible for childhood pediatric cancer. Now the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, THON is happening at high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools all over the state.
THON is completely non-profit and run by students. The organization runs fundraisers, 5K’s, and many other events throughout the year to raise money. All of the money raised goes directly to Four Diamonds (Standing for the Four Diamonds of Courage, Honesty, Wisdom, and Strength), an organization that donates 100% of profit to pediatric cancer research and is working tirelessly to find the cure. So far, THON has raised around $157,000,000, assisted over 4,000 families and, has had 16,500 student volunteers work towards the cure. Over 90,000 students from 283 schools participated in Mini-THONs last year alone.
Cedar Cliff started having an annual Mini-THON in 2014 and raised $58,597. In 2018, the school nearly doubled that number by raising $106,188. Mini-THON is always one of the most highly anticipated events of the school year, and this year it’s set to be the best yet.
The triumvirate of heads of the 2019 Mini-THON, set to happen February 23, consists of seniors Allison Dalby, Sophie Gregory, and Katie LaFaver. Dalby explained the many ways Mini-THON will be upping its game this year, and what being the head of such an important event means to her.
Some of the changes to this year’s Mini-THON included new fundraisers, such as a puppy room, a new room at the main event that will cost a fee to get into and will let students spend some time with puppies, and a larger man pageant, an annual thon event where men volunteer to participate in a beauty and talent pageant, providing humor and profit at the same time. The committee has already discussed plans for next year’s 5k in September and has potential future overall heads working on elementary school Mini-Mini-THONs to give them a taste of leadership in the future.
Regarding some of the difficulties of conducting the night, Dalby said, “It takes hours and hours of planning, organizing, and fundraising to make the event happen. Nothing goes perfectly to the plan, so having to cope and make the best out of what happens is important.”
Because 16,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer every year, many more people are indirectly affected by the disease. “Mini-THON is helping strangers in the best way possible,” Dalby said. “It’s doing something that brings the whole community together to help others. Mini-THON is giving.”
Dalby shared why she wanted to be a committee head. “Seeing how the Four Diamonds Fund helped families and impacted their lives inspired me. I wanted to help in any way I could.” But with being a leader of THON comes a whole other level of responsibility. “I personally saw the effects of cancer in my own home, and I know there were others that needed our help.”
For Dalby THON is more than just going to have fun for a cause. “I realized the true impact that we were making on people. It was no longer twelve hours of standing just because. It turned into twelve hours of standing so I could feel just a tiny bit of the pain that children with pediatric cancer go through each day.” Dalby further explained. “It went from getting one or two donations, to going door to door asking each and every person if they could help. The Four Diamonds needs us to step up and help and I didn’t realize that until I became a head.” Dalby’s comment seems to reflect the school’s feelings towards THON. It’s that important.
Since this will be her last year participating in Cedar Cliff’s Mini-THON, Dalby said she will miss the event in every aspect. “Organizing mini-THON has been one of the most stressful, time-consuming tasks that I have ever had to do; however, it is by far the most rewarding thing that I have ever been a part of.” Dalby said seeing the emotion on the faces of the Four Diamonds families that the fund supports is her favorite part of the night. “At this moment each year, I know that all of the hard work, stress, and tears were completely worth it, and I’m going to miss it all.”
You can support Mini-THON by donating to the link below.
Images courtesy of Dr. Samuel Getty