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The Journey Through THON Weekend 

Brandywine THON Dancers Michael Mensah (Left) and Paul Alberici (Right)

Liz Gramlich, Lion’s Eye Staff Editor, eag5283@psu.edu
Paul Alberici and Michael Mensah were revealed as the Brandywine Benefitting THON Dancers for THON Weekend 2015 at Brandywine THON’s annual chance auction. This means that Alberici and Mensah would dance/stand for 46 hours straight during THON Weekend to celebrate those who have defeated cancer, support those who are battling, and to honor the children who have lost the battle. Money raised goes to the Four Diamonds Foundation, which helps support families with children affected by cancer and research that is spread throughout the nation. The biggest influence for Alberici to keep dancing was the families of the Four Diamonds Foundation. Alberici stated, “When you see how happy and grateful the families are and what THON has done for them, it really makes you feel like you are making a difference by just being there for them.”
After weeks of preparation Alberici and Mensah were ready to stand on February 20 beginning at 6:00 pm. During this weekend they were able to be kids again. They colored, had water gun fights, danced, played games, and dressed up in fun clothing. While dancing for 46 hours, Alberici and Mensah had Brandywine students in the stands cheering them on. These students goal was to encourage them to keep dancing throughout the hours to keep them from not giving in to their aching body or lack of sleep. Mensah states, “My biggest influence to keep dancing during THON weekend was definitely my Brandywine organization. I know I’m dancing for the children, but whenever I saw my organization in the stands, they gave me the energy that I needed to keep going throughout the weekend. I always saw them dancing, smiling, and just having a good time!”
Throughout the weekend Alberici and Mensah stayed strong and persevered throughout the 46 hours, all for the kids. During the weekend dancers have their ups and downs. Mensah states, “the biggest struggle for me was keeping focus mentally. There was a period of time where I knew I was there physically, but mentally I was not 100% there. I would forget stuff immediately after it happened. I wound up finding myself in places and not remembering how I got there. I’d be playing with some of the other dancers, or some of the kids, and find it hard to really enjoy the moment because I was so mentally drained. What brought me back was when I read my dancer mail and got a visit from some of my organization members on the floor!” Alberici states, “I had two times where mentally I felt like I was losing it; both times were on Sunday. At one point right before I spoke to my parents, I felt like I was slipping between a dream and reality. But after I got some support and some motivational messages from the Brandywine crew, I caught my second wind. Then later during family hour, which was at hour 44 of the 46, I was listening to the stories and felt like I was falling asleep standing up. If it wasn’t for one my organization members as well as our Four Diamonds family kids squirting me in the face, I don’t know if I would’ve stayed awake. “

Brandywine THON Dancers Michael Mensah (Left) and Paul Alberici (Right) with Brandywine's THON organization in the background

Brandywine THON Dancers Michael Mensah (Left) and Paul Alberici (Right) with Brandywine’s THON organization in the background

Alberici and Mensah also experienced memorable moments that have changed their lives from dancing the 46 hours of THON. Mensah states “My favorite moment from THON would have to be when I received the “Beads of Courage” from our THON child, Trevor. Each different color of beads represented something that he went through while he was in the hospital battling Burkitts Lymphoma. It really touched my heart when I received those beads and the accompanying letter that he wrote me! It really inspired me to keep going! I will never forget that moment! All of the King family inspired me to keep going.” Alberici stated, “Just seeing how happy the families and kids were, I knew what we were doing was making a difference. To have an incredible campus organization, a great partner, the support of the families and two Dance Relations representatives that helped us with everything, it made the whole experience that much more memorable and made it turn out to be the best weekend of my life.”
Students who dance in THON do something completely selfless for others. They stand for those 46 hours for life and for those who cannot. Dancing in THON can affect these students physically and mentally. These students fight through this all for the kids. Alberici and Mensah joined the ranks of many others who represented Penn State Brandywine and completed the task of standing/dancing for 46 hours to support the children, families and raise money for the cause.

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