Record $12.3 million raised by PSU’s THON

Posted: February 18, 2013

For Jeff Bruskin, 21, a senior international politics and philosophy major, the annual Penn State Dance Marathon known as Thon is a way to show the side of the university that has been all but drowned out the last few years.

"It's not as big as our football culture, but our dance marathon, we are proud to say, is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world."

This weekend, after 46 hours of non-sit-down dancing by 710 dancers and a capacity crowd at the Bryce Jordan Center, the students announced that a record $12.3 million had been raised - putting the total collected for pediatric cancer since Thon began in 1973 at more than $100 million.

"THON is Penn State," the Thon twitter feed quoted Charles Millard, cofounder of the Four Diamond Fund whose son Christopher died from pediatric cancer.

Bruskin said the dance marathon and frenzied fund-raising - calls were made to alumni from Texas to Rome - was a welcome outlet for the frustration students feel about the sullied image the university endured from the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal.

"If anything it was more successful" than in prior years, Bruskin said. "Certainly in these difficult times, as far as the reputation is concerned with Penn State, a lot of people are passionate about the Penn State community and passionate about philanthropy. To see all the support is testament to the community and altruism of people."

THON features a "Family Hour" toward the end with families who have benefited from the fund. It covers bills at Hershey Medical Center. "You dance for a little boy who never took a step," the THON twitter feed quoted the Teddy Mortan family.

Bruskin, a supervisor at the Lion Line hotline that handles academic and other fund-raising all year but converts to a THON hotline, said a final tally would be released in a month after all pledges were received.

Because the philanthropy is student-run, Bruskin said, all of the money goes to research and to families with a child with cancer. "None of the money goes to Penn State," he said. "It's all volunteer."

Contact Inquirer Staff Writer Amy S. Rosenberg at 215-854-2681 or Follow on twitter @amysrosenberg.


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