Every year, 2,300 children lose their fight to pediatric cancer. Hundreds more lose some of their precious childhood by spending months in hospitals and undergoing painful chemotherapy treatments. Their families, while not undergoing the pain of the disease, instead feel the pain of watching their son, daughter, niece, grandchild, sister, or brother suffer and being unable to help.
At Penn State, a group of students is trying to alleviate that suffering. The Penn State Dance Marathon, or THON for short, is a student-led effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. Last year, almost $10.7 million was raised by these students. THON is comprised of thousands of Penn State students who help generate awareness, raise funds, and extend love and support to families and children battling pediatric cancer. THON culminates in a 46 hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon in February.
The funds generated by THON are then given to the Four Diamonds Fund. Four Diamonds pays for a family what their insurance doesn't cover, as well as non-medical costs like food, housing, and travel expenses. The funds from Four Diamonds, raised by THON, also support pediatric oncology specialists, music therapists, a nutritionist, nurses, a psychologist, a child life specialist, and social workers at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. Also, this money supports pediatric cancer research that could one day benefit children around the world. It all combines to create a wonderful support network for the families that have to undergo such a heart-wrenching experience.
One local family is feeling that support right now. Recently, Gavin Krum, 14, of Lehighton was unfortunately diagnosed with T-cell leukemia and admitted to the Hershey Children's Hospital. Thanks to the support of the Four Diamonds Fund, he can take part in things like music therapy while going through this difficult and painful fight.
THON raises funds and support for kids like Gavin with various events throughout the year. One of the big contributions to the final total is an event called "canning". Students who are involved in THON spread out through Pennsylvania and surrounding states, and stand on street corners with cans to collect spare change from passing cars or pedestrians. Canning happens on four predetermined weekends, and this coming weekend, (Oct. 19-21) just happens to be a canning weekend! Watch for Penn State students in your area and consider donating to this great cause!
For more information or to donate, visit www.thon.org.