THON ’21, Different But Recognizable, Starts Tonight

STATE COLLEGE PA – THON, the annual Penn State dance marathon that raises millions of dollars to benefit children and their families affected by cancer, opens Friday (Feb. 19, 2021) with hundreds of students – including 17 local residents – standing to twist and shake their way to another monetary goal. As with so many other pandemic planned events, though, this one just won’t quite be the same.

The marathon, out of safety necessity, has gone virtual and will follow health guidelines. As in the past, it will last for 46 hours but dancers will be asked to stand only for part of the time, with designated rest hours between midnight and 6 a.m.

They’ll also be challenged to complete a set of tasks from home, and not collectively in the State College university’s mammoth Bryce Jordan Center, to show their support for families of Four Diamonds, the non-profit beneficiary of THON’s charitable donations.

Among the dancers participating this year, according to THON’s media relations team, are:

  • Nandini Patel and Ryan Finn of Pottstown,
  • Luke Farnsworth, RJ Ward, and Josh Tumelty of Limerick and Royersford,
  • Alyssa Washeleski, Erin McKenna, and Shane Walker of Collegeville,
  • Matt Chalupa of Sassamansville,
  • Jenna Lotsis, Geraldine Corraro, and Sarah Dathe of Phoenixville,
  • Ashley Nguyen of Harleysville,
  • Helen Budowsky and Chloe Schaffer of Pine Forge,
  • Alyssa Carlier of Gilbertsville, and
  • Joaquim Diego Santos of Douglassville.

“When I reflect on this past year, what first comes to mind is resilience,” THON 2021 Executive Director Katie Solomon of Harleysville says. “We started off our year in March 2020, just as everything was changing due to COVID-19, and had no idea what was yet to come. With nearly fifty years of experience and tradition behind us, our world was flipped upside-down. However, what will never change is our ability to financially and emotionally support families impacted by childhood cancer.”

The THON Weekend consists of performance groups, family speakers, and annual favorites such as a pep rally, headlining artists, kids talent and fashion show, family hour, and other entertainment. Its live-stream can be accessed here any time from Friday at 6 p.m. to Sunday (Feb. 21) at 4 p.m.

The website also will provide a comprehensive spectator guide for viewers with resources on how they can participate in, and donate to, THON safely from home.

Laptop photo inset by The Post from THON 2018
Laptop and hands photo from Deposit Photos, used under license