Philanthropy Spotlight: Dance Marathon
Today I would like to highlight a philanthropy that is near and dear to my heart, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. In addition to being a great event, Dance Marathon started the spark 27 years ago that lead to the creation of Icing Smiles. The Dance Marathon, also simply known as Thon, started at Penn State in 1973 and has grown into the world’s largest student-run philanthropy. Thon is a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer.
Over 350 student organizations at Penn State work throughout the year to raise awareness and money for pediatric cancer. When I first got involved with Dance Marathon in 1990 I was ecstatic that the event raised over half a million dollars. The event has continually grown each year and in 2016 Dance Marathon raised over $9 million! In total, since 1977 Dance Marathon has raised over $137 million.
Dance Marathon raises money for Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital in Hershey, PA. The money is used to cover all medical expenses that insurance won’t cover for children admitted to Hershey Medical Center for cancer treatment. This lifts a huge financial burden off of families so they can focus on their kids. Four Diamonds has also established numerous research endowments, bringing them one step closer to a cure.
Dancing for 46 hours!
The year-long preparations culminate in a 46 hour dance marathon. My first involvement was as a dancer my sophomore year at Penn State with Icing Smiles founder Tracy Quisenberry and eight other “brothers” from our business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi. While you don’t technically have to dance, you have to be awake and on your feet for the entire time. At the time, I joined because I thought it would be something fun to do, not realizing that it would be a grueling and inspirational weekend. Many of the Four Diamonds families attend the Dance Marathon and the kids are so inspiring! They make you realize that the temporary pain in your feet is totally worth it to see these kids smile.
From dancing for the kids to baking for the kids
As a college student I didn’t realize that one weekend of dancing would inspire me to continue to work in a field where I can help children facing critical illness. Lucky for me and over 12,000 cake recipients, the Dance Marathon started the spark for Tracy Quisenberry to create her own nonprofit focused on the children battling critical illness. Tracy states, “Little did I know that the children who came to encourage us would capture my heart with their courage and positive attitude.” To read more about why Icing Smiles was founded read Our Beginning.
Dance Marathon will occur again Feb 17-19, 2017. We cheer on the dancers and supporters. We look forward to seeing how the event will continue to support Four Diamonds and their mission to conquer childhood cancer!
Submitted by contributing writer and Technology Manager Kim Hearn.