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THON weekend approaches

Alyssa Pressler
505-5438/@AlyssaPressYD
  • Penn State's THON is this weekend, where students dance for 46 hours straight to raise money.
  • The event happens each year and raises money for pediatric cancer research at Penn State Hershey Children's hospital.
  • This year's THON theme is "Igniting hope within."

Students from Penn State York will be dancing for 46 hours straight this weekend in the name of pediatric cancer research.

From left, Penn State York students Ryan Manganello, of Hellam Township, Shawnee Hostetter, of Red Lion, and Hunter Beck, of Spring Garden Township, are shown in the Joe and Rosie Ruhl Student Community Center on campus in Spring Garden Township, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

THON Weekend is coming up Friday, Saturday and Sunday. THON is Penn State's student-run philanthropy for Four Diamonds, an organization that provides support for children with cancer. The money raised through THON directly benefits kids with cancer at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

From left to right: Ryan Manganello, 18, Shawnee Hostetter, 20, and Hunter Beck, 18, will represent the Penn State York campus at this year's annual THON event. THON is a student-based philanthropy that raises money for pediatric cancer research.

Events supporting THON are held year-round by students at Penn State campuses, including Penn State York. Local schools are involved as well, such Spring Grove, which held a Mini-THON kickoff for the district in January.

VIDEO: Spring Grove's Mini-THON Kick-off

At THON Weekend, participants spend 46 hours straight dancing with absolutely no sleeping or sitting. They'll begin at 6 p.m. on Friday and continue through until 4 p.m. on Sunday, according to Barb Dennis, spokeswoman for the campus and an adviser to the campus's THON group. According to a news release from Penn State York, this year's theme is "Ignite Hope Within."

Students from Penn State York who were involved in THON throughout the year will go to the event to cheer on three dancers who were chosen to represent the campus on the dance floor. The event takes place at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College.

The three Penn State York students chosen to represent the campus on the dance floor are Hunter Beck, 18, Shawnee Hostetter, 20, and Ryan Manganello, 18. This is the first year the three have attended THON Weekend.

The three were chosen based on criteria such as spirit points earned by participating at different fundraising activities.

According to the release, THON has raised more than $137 million for Four Diamonds since 1977. This year, fundraising efforts have included two canning weekends at several locations in the York area, a Poker with Jimmy poker tournament, a blood drive with the American Red Cross, a Penn State York Alumni Society pancake breakfast, a Fall Fest, a spaghetti dinner and Paw Search, a talent show.

Those who participate in THON also help by sponsoring local families dealing with childhood cancer. They also send cards, host parties and provide emotional support.

Penn State York sponsors Autumn Foller, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 and is now 13, and Ava Hagens, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2009 and is now 9. Both girls are currently in remission.

Those interested in specifically supporting the dancers from Penn State York can donate online so the donations are credited to the campus. Checks also can be sent to Penn State York, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., York, PA 17403 and should be made out to Penn State Dance Marathon or THON. Checks should have "York, Org. 170" in the memo line.