by Hanna Bernett

It’s time to get a running start on the THON fundraising year! The 2021 THON 5K is on October 10th, 2021, and registration is live! 

2021 marks the 21st annual THON 5K powered by PNC. All proceeds from the event directly benefit Four Diamonds. 

This year’s 5K promises a return to the event that we all know and love. While 2020’s Virtual 5K was an excellent adaptation that enabled runners to participate safely, we’re looking forward to seeing everyone in person this year! 

In the weeks leading up to registration opening, THON Captains, Organizations, and Families alike all expressed their eagerness for the event.  

“I’m excited that this year’s THON 5K can take place in person! After hearing Hope and Ian’s (2021 5K Captains) plans for this year, I can’t wait to watch all of their ideas come together and be in State College to support them on the day of their event! I’m hopeful that families and other supporters will be able to travel back to State College for the weekend and be a part of the event like they have in most years prior,” explained 2020 5K Captain Shelby Speaker. 

Many families are in fact hoping to travel to State College for the event, such as the family of Carly Wilfong, who told us, “I have been a part of THON since 2013, I am excited to see everyone at the 5K this year especially the Evans and Pulaski family and just to be back at Penn State hopefully. My favorite THON 5K memory was getting to walk with the Evans family in 2020 during the course of the event. These two families mean so much to me as both Devin and Aubrey look up to me, and I feel like I am their big sister.” 

One of the best parts of the 5K is seeing so many affiliated Organizations gather together to race for a cure; a small taste of THON Weekend itself. 

Michael Licatta, a THON Chair from AKPsi, reported that the organization is most looking forward to seeing the continued participation and excitement at the THON 2022 5K. “It is always so special to see the support and dedication to THON’s mission that is shared throughout the Penn State Community! At these events, virtual and in person, it is amazing to witness the impact of THON on the volunteers and families.” Licatta said that the org will be running in honor of their paired families, the Bryants and the Rodriguezes, “We are excited to continue growing our special bond with them over this next year through our own events and the different THON traditions!” 

AKPsi is not alone in their source of running motivation. Many organizations also find inspiration in their paired family. A THON Chair from Eclipse remarked, “We’ve been involved in THON since 2016, and we’re paired with the Jeremiah Reedy family. We are running for Jeremiah.”  

Much like AKPsi and Eclipse, every organization and individual has their own unique inspiration to run, which Gianna Wilkie (2019 THON 5K Captain) recollects as her favorite aspect of the event: 

“My favorite THON 5K moment was actually near the end of the day. We had set up a large chalkboard with the prompt “#WhyIRun” and before we had to tear it down to clean up, I looked over what everyone had written. There were names of family members, friends, Four Diamonds family members, and reasons so personal to each and every volunteer listing why they chose to show up and run that day. Seeing that wooden board that we had frantically painted just a week beforehand covered in such special messages really gave the indescribable feeling that THON provides a tangible form.” 

If you cannot attend the event in person, signups are available for a Virtual 5K (similar to the 2020 format), so you can run from anywhere. Those who prefer not to run can still feel free to watch and cheer on friends through the livestream on October 10th! Regardless of how you choose to participate, the 5K is an excellent way to meet new volunteers and kick off the THON year. We hope to see you there! 

To get register for the in-person THON 5K in State College, click https://store.thon.org/product/thon-5k-powered-by-pnc-registration/ and to register for the Virtual 5K, click https://donate.thon.org/event/virtual5K