by Caitlin Hanley

The Penn State community is made up of many clubs and organizations that dedicate their time and effort in order to support THON and the Four Diamonds families. My THON experience at Penn State has been enhanced by being a member of the Penn State Cheerleading Team. My team values our involvement in THON just as much as our involvement in Penn State athletics.

Our 57 members are lucky enough to be able to not only support THON through our team, but also through several different THON committees, special interest organizations, and Greek Life. Freshman Jordan Westbrook splits her time between the cheerleading team, an ENT committee, the Society of Women Engineers Organization, and the Gamma Phi Beta sorority. Although her freshman year hasn’t been what she expected, she said that being involved with THON has truly been a life changing experience, and she can’t wait to be inside the BJC with her committee and to be apart of her first THON.

Being involved with THON has given our members incredible opportunities to engage in what they are passionate about. Senior Chloe Schaeffer, who will be dancing in THON this year and has been involved as a member of Alpha Phi, a Dancer Relations Committee Member, and acted as a chair for the team, recently had the opportunity to partner with THON to build an interactive sculpture that is currently displayed in the HUB. Students are able to pay for a ribbon, write why they THON, and hang it on the sculpture. Of course, all proceeds made from ribbon sales go directly to THON. As an art major, this was an amazing opportunity for Chloe to display her work and to give to the THON community.

This year, the Penn State Cheerleading Team is lucky to have five members dancing in THON. Seniors Carter Kelly, Chloe Schaeffer, Lexi Hoopes, and Madison McCahan will be representing our team, and senior Danielle Coscio will be dancing as an IDC. We plan on supporting them as best we can while following COVID guidelines. They would definitely rather be in the BJC, as I’m sure we can all agree with, but they are honored and excited to be representing our team and standing 46 hours For The Kids.

Though our organization is not the largest, we were able to raise $43,185.27 during THON 2020 and were ranked as the tenth highest fundraiser out of the all the general organizations. We are so lucky to have two amazing THON families, the Evans family and the Munger family. The Evans recently moved back home to Canada because our THON child, Aubrey, is officially cancer free! This year we were blessed to meet Emma and have been getting to know her and her family as best we can through Zoom. Emma is 15, and she is a perfect match for our team because she’s a cheerleader, too. We are so excited to be a part of her journey and to experience our first THON with her and her family.

Personally, I always say that THON is the best thing that Penn State has brought me, and I am so grateful to be on a team of young men and women that share that same passion. Through every fundraiser and event, our team grows closer as we all dedicate ourselves to doing whatever we can to make a difference For The Kids, and we will continue to do so until we find a cure.