by Tyler O'Connell

The Penn State Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi, a Professional Business Fraternity, has embedded THON’s yearlong effort to raise money for the fight against childhood cancer into their organization. This year DSP has four dancers taking a physical stand in the fight from February 19th – 21st. Austin Catania (senior, Economics and Labor and Employment Relations), Ben Cinker (senior, Finance), Erik Hall (senior, Health Policy and Administration), and Janeen Porter (senior, Finance) each have unique defining moments that made them decide they wanted to dance in THON, but they all agree that their THON families, The Bushes, The Camps, and The Wrights are their biggest sources of inspiration. DSP loves spending time with all of their families, whether it be through bowling, hiking, or watching Penn State football together! One of their THON children, Andrew Wright, has even recently joined DSP as a brother.

Austin Catania recalls the immediate bond he felt meeting DSP’s THON families for the first time. “I distinctly remember traveling with Erik and Janeen to go bowling and play laser tag with one of our THON families, where, and I think I can speak for the rest of us, we had the time of our lives,” said Catania. He was caught off guard by how welcoming the family was by inviting DSP brothers into their home and the overwhelming sense of family. “In the moment I knew I wanted to dance in their honor,” said Catania.

Erik Hall and Janeen Porter both describe their first time at THON freshman year as brothers in DSP as the moment they knew they wanted to be dancers.

Porter finally felt DSP’s fundraising efforts come to fruition as she entered the Bryce Jordan Center for the first time in 2018. “I remember getting goosebumps and being overwhelmed with emotions as I watched the dancers and kids roam around,” said Porter.  “I remember being so proud and grateful to be a part of such an amazing cause that helps kids and their families. The energy in the BJC was so captivating, I’d never experienced anything like it.”

Erik Hall remembers seeing Penn Staters canning in his hometown of Lewisburg, PA growing up and was encouraged by his parents, both Penn State alumni, to get involved. As a freshman in the stands with DSP he felt a bit intimidated and didn’t know many people, but throughout that weekend he discovered the impact of THON through the warmth and excitement of his brothers. “I began to understand that THON is the culmination of so much hard work, passion, and love,” said Hall. “It’s been my dream to dance throughout my time at Penn State and having that opportunity now is already a dream come true.”

Ben Cinker’s connection to THON began at birth! “My parents met on the dancefloor at the 1991 Penn State Dance Marathon, and the rest is history,” said Cinker. “I have always wanted to follow in their footsteps and contribute to this incredible organization.” He has previously volunteered with DSP and THON’s Finance Committee and is especially excited to spend his last THON as a dancer.

Delta Sigma Pi hosted all virtual fundraising events this year to keep everyone safe and healthy. This led to lots of creativity, most notably, a chicken nugget eating contest! They raised money by taking bets on which brother could eat the most chicken nuggets in the least amount of time. Even though this year looks different, each dancer is looking forward to celebrating everyone’s hard work and representing their families as well as all Four Diamonds families during THON Weekend.

Janeen Porter describes THON 2021, “as an opportunity to show our families and the rest of the kids that we stand with them through whatever.” She emphasized that no matter what obstacles the THON community may face, “the brothers of DSP & the Penn State students would be standing right next to all the kids, hand in hand, still fighting for a cure.”