Meet Brandywine’s THON Dancers!
THON does it again and shows the world what a dedicated group of people can do when they work together for one cause.
Since the 1970’s, Penn State has held one of the largest dance marathons of the year, with 700+ “dancers” taking a stand against pediatric cancer. This year, Penn State Brandywine THON was represented by two of their extremely dedicated members: Liz Gramlich and Jason Severin.
Gramlich, a sophomore at Brandywine, is the organization’s Family Relations Chair and helps the organization connect with a Four Diamonds family. Last year Gramlich made it her goal to represent Brandywine for 46 hours of dancing. She canned every day of every canning weekend for Brandywine, made multiple trips up to State College to attend meetings and helped at every event that THON had this year.
Severin, also a sophomore at Brandywine and who has plans of attending State College next year, was one of the dedicated members of Brandywine’s group who helped make this year’s fundraising campaign the more successful one to date. Jason’s dedication to THON included multiple days where he stayed in the same location from sunrise to sunset, collecting money for the Four Diamonds fund.
Thanks to their hard work, both Severin and Gramlich earned the privilege of dancing at THON 2014. For the entire weekend, they danced, played a variety of different games like giant Jenga, which was one of Jason’s favorite parts, and engaged in heated water gun fights with the kids and their families. They laughed, they cried and the helped the kids and their families forget about the issues they face daily.
Overall, both of the dancers loved just being there with the kids.
“The kids and everything they have to go through was the main reason I stood,” Gramlich said. “If they can go through dealing with cancer then I can deal with standing for 46 hours.”
Jason also shared his main reason for getting through the weekend.
“The primary thing was seeing the kids and how happy it was making them,” Severin said.
Both agreed their favorite part of the weekend was family hour. Family hour takes place in the final hours of THON weekend and is a time when Four Diamonds families get a chance to tell their stories of how they have dealt with a child having cancer. It’s capped off by a slideshow of kids who have since passed away because of cancer. It offers the biggest form of inspiration and motivation to finish the weekend strong.
“You hear all the families’ stories and learn what they go through,” Gramlich said. “It reinforces why you are there and standing 46 hours.”
Finally at 4 p.m. Sunday night, the dancers finally get to sit down. And that is when the top 10 fundraisers in each category (fraternities, club sports teams, special interest groups, commonwealth campuses and other categories) are revealed. That was also when Brandywine and their dancers were astounded. Brandywine THON was ranked in the top 10 for commonwealth campuses which has not happened in more than a decade.
“I absolutely flipped,” Severin said. “It just proves we can do anything. Possibly be at the top one day?”
Finally the moment everyone waited for arrived — the moment when the total amount of money raised for that fundraising year is revealed. The grand total of THON 2014 was a massive $13,343,517.33, breaking last year’s $12.3 million raised.
“It’s amazing we broke our record again,” Gramlich said. “So many people can come together like a family for kids with cancer and raise such large amounts of money.” With that THON 2014 comes to a close, but that also means planning for next year is already in the works.
Lions Eye Staff Writer, firstname.lastname@example.org