by Christina Cologer

Carmen DiPippo, Ava Kovaks, and Brielle Blanton are 3 seniors dancing their final THON™ for Volé Dance Club. Carmen is a Journalism major from Washington, D.C, Ava is a Media Studies major from New York, and Briella is a Biobehavioral Health major with a minor in Health Policy Administration from Pittsburgh, PA. 

Carmen has known about THON™ since she was 6-years-old, seeing people canning For The Kids® even in Washington, D.C. Carmen shared that she had friends from her community who have battled with leukemia, and through these strong motivations, THON™ is the reason she decided to attend Penn State. Brielle and Ava learned about THON™ once coming to Penn State, after both joining Ohana, and then later getting more involved with it through Volé. Brielle even stood the full 46 hours in the stands during her first THON™, because she was so in awe of the entire atmosphere of the BJC. 

Volé’s highly involved THON™ families, the dedication to fighting childhood cancer, and their partner Alpha Sigma Phi motivated the girls to stay incredibly involved in THON™ in many ways, but especially with Volé. The amazing THON™ families, which each girl raved about, are the Noelle Weinhold family and the Julia O’Toole family. Carmen, Ava, and Brielle have been in close communication with these families all throughout this weekend: playing Among Us with them, Minecraft, and face painting activities. The kids are in great spirits, making the most of this year’s different format. 

The THON™ dancers are keeping themselves motivated by staying accountable. They read their dancer mail and rely on their Dancer Relations Committee Members to keep their heads in the game. Carmen said, “When I was a sophomore in my DR Committee, my captain made this thing for us that just says ‘remember your why,’ and […] that’s been my go-to throughout this whole weekend.. No one’s going to deny that we’d rather be in the BJC, but our mission still hasn’t changed, and our families need us now more than ever honestly, so reminding ourselves why we even got involved with THON™ in the first place and what is your ‘why’ is the most important thing to remember throughout the weekend.”  

Although all 3 of these dancers are seniors, they do not want THON™ 2021 to be their last THON™ experience. They plan to continue being a part of the THON™ family, even as alumni. The girls would love, if it’s safe, to visit an in-person THON™ next year, to support the dancers who will be in the shoes that they are in this year. Carmen especially feels such a sense of pride for what the Penn State class of 2021 has been able to do for THON™ throughout the years. Ava explained that the close-knit Volé community and their THON™ families left her with an experience that she will never forget. Brielle wants to join THON™ Nation as an alumni and continue to support Volé throughout the years. 

Rise and Unify is this year’s theme, and it’s something Carmen, Ava, and Brielle have held close to them throughout the entire experience of THON™ 2021. As the girls reiterated, unity does not have to mean together physically. Unity under THON™’s mission is what is pushing these incredible dancers through. Congratulations Carmen, Ava, and Brielle!