Written by: Emma Saltzman and Ronald Geiger
The THON 5k brings thousands to State College every year to kick off the annual series of events. The 2022 5k took place on October 16, a beautiful and breezy morning at Penn State. Each runner has a story to share and a reason why they THON™. One pair of runners had a particularly inspiring story.
Tyler and Maria were hyped up and ready to run the morning of the 5k. They were enjoying a quick breakfast before making their way to the starting line. While many people may not be inclined to spend a chilly Sunday morning running, the pair decided to participate for a special reason.
“I never had childhood cancer, but I grew up with childhood disease. That affected me a lot. So just see seeing kids in pain and trying to kind of give them back. Try to provide kids with as much as normal life as possible.” said Tyler.
Maria has also seen the unimaginable pain that cancer inflicts and what their families have had to go through via the eyes of her best friend.
“I grew up with my best friend’s mom having cancer, and I just saw how it impacted her growing up being her best friend and it’s unimaginable. I felt so bad for her and ever since then, I’ve always made it a point to get involved with anything where I can help anyone,” Maria said.
As the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, students and alumni alike would consider THON to be a hallmark of life at Penn State.
“Thon has always felt like home for me, and I’ve been a part of it since my freshman year and it just, it’s something I could never miss. It’s like my favorite thing about Penn State.” said Maria.
When asked why she THONs, Maria’s answer was simple, “I thon so that kids can be kids.”
The THON 5k, THON’s largest pre-THON event, allowed for students, alumni, and other supporters to come together and show their support in State College and around the world. The in-person event had over 3,000 runners participating, who ran the course around Penn State’s campus.
Runners could also take part outside of State College if they wanted to. Participants could also register for the Virtual THON 5k and run or walk their own 5k during the weekend and tune in to THON’s livestream on the day of the in-person event.
The THON 5k demonstrated how the Penn State community is taking action in the fight against childhood cancer all For the Kids®.