Written by: Carissa Alers and Eva Patt
We all know and love THON™, a yearlong effort that culminates into Penn State’s 46-hour dance marathon where students take part in a no sitting and no sleeping challenge to raise money for childhood cancer. Throughout the weekend many dancers challenge their mind and body and push the limits all in pursuit for a cure. We had the opportunity to talk with two dancers from THON 2022 who truly felt THON made a huge impact on their lives. Throughout the interviews it was clear to see that THON not only has an impact on the children and families it serves, but also the students who dedicate their time and energy to be a part of the THON experience.
Brinn Albrecht was a senior during THON 2022 dancing for her organization, Phi Chi Theta Business Fraternity (PCT). During her sophomore year attending her first THON with PCT, she stood 44/46 hours in the stands cheering on her friends. Brinn knew from that moment on that she would do anything in her power to be able to dance one day.
She explained that while learning about and meeting PCT’s THON families and watching how passionate her peers were about them she was encouraged even more to dance. When asking about Brinn’s memories from THON she had many to share. Her favorite part of all of THON weekend was seeing how supported she was by her organization and looking up to see her friends in the stands saying, “Knowing I was surrounded by 24/7 support and people who do nothing but love you and lift you up was an unexplainable feeling!”
In addition to all Brinn’s amazing memories, she spoke about the hardest part of the weekend for her when Saturday night rolled around, just at the 24-hour mark, and she felt like breaking down. Brinn was encouraged during this time by her parents and stated how much they helped her through. THON’s impact on Brinn was clear through her explanation of the feeling it still gives her to this day. Brinn spoke about how every time she thinks about THON and her accomplishment that weekend, it gives her the chills. As she reminisced on the weekend, she spoke about her current feelings on the power and importance of THON saying, “It reminds me what a feat so many kids (and adults) go through while fighting their cancer battles. I feel so honored to have represented such an amazing organization all while representing the overall amazing cause that is THON.”
Along with Brinn, Will Koziel danced his senior year for special interest organization Axis. Throughout his years at Penn State he was an active member on different THON committees, with his first three years on Dancer Relations and his last year on Donor and Alumni Relations. His main reasoning for dancing was for the families affected by childhood cancer. He was able to meet one of the families through his organization and was touched seeing their experience firsthand. After meeting the family, it strengthened his want to dance so he could represent the family while dancing the full 46 hours.
When asked about his favorite memory, Will recalled thinking that the THON community went all out and made it rain on the stage, when indeed it was never actually raining on stage throughout the weekend. In addition to all his great memories of THON, Will spoke of the hardest part of THON being Sunday morning. He spoke how the toll of standing for almost 40 hours really starts to kick in. However, Will praised the Final Four hours saying how they make the last part of the 46 hours go by fast and reminds a person just why they are dancing.
Finally, when asked about the impact of THON on himself, Will talked of how he has made some of his best friends through THON, and how the organization has taught him how hard work really does pay off. In addition, Will explained how THON has helped to broaden his view of the world around him and has immensely impacted his life.
Through the answers given in the interviews, it is easy to see how meaningful and impactful THON has been to people. Both Will and Brinn shared heartfelt stories as to why they THON which will stay with them forever. Will spoke to his biggest takeaway and piece of advice to be if a person has the chance to dance just do it and try to also make sure to do some running before to build better leg strength. Brinn’s encouragement for anyone looking to dance is to push past the intimidation and fear you might be feeling and remember that you’re representing a cause that is so much bigger than yourself. She explained that the feeling is incredible, and the bonds created that weekend are unmatched in every way. After her words of encouragement, she gushed about her own biggest takeaway explaining that “THON means more to me than I ever could have imagined. I’ll always fight For the Kids®.”