by Danielle Venuto

Seniors Kasey Burke and Sammy Eline are members of Kappa Kappa Gamma and have been participating in THON since their freshman year at Penn State. Both Kasey and Sammy stood 46 hours in the stands during their sophomore year and much of the time their freshman year. Together, the girls served as the THON chairs for Kappa during their sophomore year. Both studied abroad during their Junior year but made the effort to keep in contact with the THON chairs and dancers that year. When asked who they dance for their answer came quick and passionately; they dance for Owen. Owen is Kappa’s THON child and they have been blessed with the opportunity to watch him grow over their four years with him. Owen is 7 years old and at age 2 he was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, cancer that affects the eyes and he has recently lost vision in the left eye. The girls spoke about how they have seen his highs and lows over their years with him and know his fight is not over yet. They are ecstatic that they can dance for Owen and his family as they have seen what enormous effects THON has had on his life is nothing but great ways. Kappa’s theme this year for THON is power rangers for Owen and the dancer’s apartment was decorated with a power ranger pinata and lots of balloons and streamers in the power ranger colors.

Both dancers spoke on the amazing group of people they have surrounding them that consists of other members of Kappa Kappa Gamma and members of the Delta Chi fraternity. Together, the dancers and friends keep each other motivated by doing group stretches and games to keep everyone active. They have also been on zoom with Owen playing games with him. The girls got lots of advice over the years from previous dancers that they thought helped them to prepare for dancing this year. One thing that has really helped them his year was the cold weather waking them up, and the ability to leave the apartment and take a walk to get some fresh air.

Kasey Burke is a senior from Delaware County, Pennsylvania, and THON has always been relevant in her life. During high school, she participated in a Mini-THON and knew it was something she wanted to continue with at Penn state. While Kasey is sad that this is her last THON, she is already thinking of ways to stay involved after she graduated. “It’s like you put in all this work for four years and then it just stops, and it makes you think of how you can keep going with it and stay involved.” As mentioned before, Kasey was Kappa’s THON chair, so she had great advice going into this year’s THON as a dancer. To prepare herself, Kasey purchased a standing desk and used it while taking classes leading up to THON. She stated how it had helped her so much and she wants to continue to use it even after THON is over. She also gave up caffeine 3 weeks prior to starting THON and was grateful that she had done that. Kasey felt that giving up caffeine has reduced having bad highs and lows while dancing. Kasey’s favorite aspect of THON is how it brings together so many people that all work to fight against cancer. She loves to see how involved all of the students, Alumni, 4 Diamonds, families, and children are and how dedicated everyone is to fundraise and make THON the best it can be.

Sammy Eline, also a senior, is from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She stated that this being her last THON as a Penn State student is bittersweet. “ While I am very sad that I will not have the opportunity to be this involved again as a student, at the same time it has been an amazing experience that I will never get to have again, and I am so lucky to be a part of a school that does this”. Sammy has an older brother that graduated from Penn State and was involved with THON. Because of this, she has been keeping up with THON even before she was a Penn State student, and she could not wait to be a dancer. Sammy has her mom and family supporting her from a distance and cheering her on. Her favorite aspect of THON is at the

end when the total amount of money raised is shown. She loves how in addition to giving the number value, they explain how much can be done with that money in terms of how many patients visits we pay for and all the other different statistics. Sammy thinks it is so great to see the difference you are making by being a dancer or being involved in general because as a community we get to see how much we have done for all the amazing families and children.

Thank you so much to Sammy and Kasey for taking the time to interview and share why they THON with us. They shared a great, meaningful message with us all and we wish them the best of luck with the rest of THON and dancing!