by Jordan Corley

Why I THON™ – Steph Galetta

Every THON™ volunteer has a unique story of why they became involved in the fight. Whether they chose to attend Penn State to participate in THON or became involved during their senior year, we all experience moments during the THON year which put the year-long effort into perspective and make the sleepless nights worth it.  

As a THON volunteer myself, we pull from these experiences when tiring after a long day of juggling THON work and classes. We indulge in the laughs of the children and smiles of the parents during each and every event leading up to THON and we cherish the 46-hour dance marathon, savoring the joy in the arena before preparing for the next year.  

There are times when it becomes difficult, knowing that our efforts may help children, but we have not yet reached our end goal, where we may dance in pure celebration that no parent will ever hear “your child has cancer” again.  

Steph Galetta, a fifth-year senior, has been involved with THON for much of her time at Penn State. From THON Chair of Club Water Polo, to dancer to THON Captain, she has participated in the workings of THON from all perspectives and found one of her most impactful THON moments to come from THON weekend 2019 during Family Hour. 

“As a dancer for my organization, I found my mind in a limbo: trying to balance the flood of raw emotions brought out by the family speakers while also trying not to think about the sharp, shooting pain I was feeling in my ankles. I stood swaying arm-in-arm with my fellow dancers, co-chairs, and our two Four Diamond families when the Dameshek family took the stage. Immediately our group tensed up, as Emilia Dameshek and Britt endured the bulk of their treatment together in 2012; Emilia was Britt’s best friend. I will never forget the glazed eyes and steady flow of tears rolling down the Wagners’ cheeks as they watched their dear friends speak on behalf of their bereaved child. Natalie Dameshek, Emilia’s mother, mentioned a friend named “Britt” and immediately the Wagners’ steady tears turned to weeps. In that moment, the physical pain I had been feeling immediately vanished as I was wholly consumed by the need to be there for Britt and support the Wagners in that moment,”

Galetta said.

Galetta has been a part of Club Water Polo for the past three years and during that time, gotten to know the Club’s Four Diamond Families, the Wagners and the Benders, quite well. 

 “Brittany Wagner (18), Kimberly Bender (6), and her twin sister, Allison serve as my daily inspiration and my organization’s driving force,”

Galetta said.

Galetta said she pulls from moments like these to continue fighting for a world where cancer does not exist.

“No family should ever have to go through what the Dameshek, Wagner, or Bender families have endured. No child deserves to be stuck in a hospital bed and no parent should have to hear the words, ‘Your child has cancer,’”

Galetta said.

She participates in THON for the Wagners and the Benders and for all the Four Diamonds families. 

“I THON so that no family has to worry about paying medical bills and can focus all of their energy on being by their child’s side while they battle this disease,”

Galetta said.