Written By: Michael DeMarshall and Mia Harrison
The THON 5K powered by PNC Bank, year after year, never fails to disappoint. What started out as a gloomy Sunday, quickly became a sunshine-filled event that nobody would be able to forget. The excitement built throughout the day, with live music, interactions with some of the Four Diamond Families that we love, raffle prizes, guest speakers, and so much more. It was truly amazing and inspirational to see how many students were willing to get up early on their Sunday reset day to participate in a race For the Kids®. Luckily, we got the opportunity to talk to some of the awesome volunteers and a participant in the THON 5K powered by PNC Bank about what this experience means to each one of them.
We were given the opportunity to speak to Heidi Van Buren and Grace Inserra, who are captains of the Supply Logistics committee. Heidi and Grace were up early Sunday morning setting up balloon pillars that they had worked on to get donated from sponsors in the previous weeks. During the THON 5K powered by PNC Bank, they were walking around selling raffle tickets. When asked how she connected with THON™, Grace says, “I personally connected with THON when I was in high school, and I saw my sister getting involved in it when she was a student here, so when I was a freshman, I joined a DR committee. Last year during THON I really decided that I wanted to be a captain. What motivates me most is the families.” When asked why she is involved in THON, Heidi says, “It is something that unites here at Penn State, which is so special, it is something that we all can get involved in and make such a big difference.”
We were also given the opportunity to speak to Gwen Cullen, who is heavily involved with THON within her sorority and was previously involved in a committee. Speaking to Gwen, we were able to gather that she was a participant that was walking this year’s THON 5K powered by PNC Bank. Gwen was in high spirits as we talked to her about THON. “THON is such a great way to give back to the families and the kids, to give them the relief from the financial and emotional stress that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise,” said Gwen. This really shined light on the overall commitment to THON that people are involved in and really helped to encapsulate THON’s mission statement. When asking Gwen why she decided to sign up for the race, her response was undeniably one of the most sincere ways to express the light that comes out of THON. Gwen says “I signed up for the THON 5K because it’s not only a great way to experience the THON activity with everybody else that loves THON, but it is also a great way to bond with your community who you fundraise money with.” Gwen is just one of the many students involved within THON that helps to raise money to find a cure for childhood cancer to hopefully bring us one step closer to finding a cure.