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February College Feature: THON Dance Marathon at Penn State

Tue, Feb 03, 2015 @ 11:15 AM

Penn State THON 2014Students At Penn State Get to Dance All Night At The School's Annual THON Dance Marathon

At IvyWise we like to highlight colleges and programs that many students may not be familiar with. Each month, we will highlight a unique or aspect of a school or an interesting program in an effort to help students learn more about the variety of institutions in the US. This month, we’re taking a look at Pennsylvania State University’s THON, a major student-run philanthropic dance marathon. (Image via NBC Philadelphia) 

College students know how to pull all-nighters—but this time it’s not in the library the night before a big test. At Pennsylvania State University, a 48-hour dance marathon, known as THON, has garnered national attention and drawn a diverse group of student participants. Who could refuse an on-campus event that combines philanthropy, exercise, and fun?

While many colleges and universities host philanthropic dance marathons, THON is considered “the largest student-run philanthropy in the world” as well as the “oldest and longest dance marathon in the country.” Funds raised benefit Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital in order to help treat childhood cancer, and over $114 has been donated to this specific cause since 1977. 

While fundraising takes place year-round, the dance marathon itself occurs over the course of a weekend in February. In addition to providing ample opportunity for moving and grooving, the 45-year-old event allows families of patients the chance to speak and be recognized in front of an expansive audience. 

There are many ways for Penn State students to get involved with the event. Dancers may sign up to participate independently or with a campus organization, or they can even serve as a THON committee member or captain. Just make sure rest up prior to the big weekend, as the marathon does not allow for sleeping! 

This year, THON will run February 20-22. While the first ever event in 1973 raised $2,000, the 2014 THON resulted in over $13.3 million in donations.  Unless the venue becomes too full, members of the public are welcome to participate in the marathon extravaganza. 

Across the country, additional college students are partaking in their own extended dance parties. Other universities offering marathons include Washington University in St. Louis, Stanford, Northwestern, Rutgers, and Vanderbilt, to name a few. These events are a great way for students to show off their school spirit and give back to the community and learn a few new moves in the process!

What philanthropic opportunities are you looking for when researching colleges? Tell us in the comments below!

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