Written By: Erica Smith and Katelyn Weller
On November 26th 2022, Mike McDermott revealed himself as the Nittany Lion during the last home football game of the 2022 season. However, he believes his allegiance to the Penn State community is far from over. Himself as well as Niko Marsh, known as the “Mic Man,” have declared themselves as an Independent Dancer Couple (IDC) and have fought hard for a spot on the dance floor in Feburary.
Mike shared, “THON is the greatest thing I have ever done as the Nittany Lion. It easily surpasses any whiteout game, Rose Bowl game, traveling all over the country, anything. Nothing competes. Being the Nittany Lion for THON has connected me to this dance marathon in a way I never would have thought I would be connected. Having such a strong impact on every kid and their families is so full of emotion I cannot even describe; the closest thing would just be having a heart full of so many different emotions.”
“Especially now as the Nittany Lion, having worked my whole college career as ‘The Symbol of Our Best,’ the best capstone to this amazing service would be to dance as myself, while fulfilling the duties as the mascot in my final event ever, the most selfless thing I can do, for the kids,” Mike declared.
Mike and Niko are an electric and iconic duo in the Penn State community. They have been looking forward to dancing together even before Niko became the Mic Man. Mike expressed, “We have so much energy and chemistry, all we want to do is entertain all the kids and families with all of the goofy stuff we do together.”
Niko shared, “I knew that I wanted to IDC for a while, but I wasn’t exactly sure who to pair up with. I wanted to work with someone who was as passionate about THON as I am. Mike and I have become really close friends due to all of the events we have done together as the Mic Man and Nittany lion duo.”
Niko expressed, “I have pictured myself dancing on the floor countless times and I really hope to take it all in and enjoy every second of the experience. Last year, I was in the stands for the entire 46 hours supporting the kids, the families, and all my friends dancing. So, I guess I am looking forward to being able to experience all of THON from the floor this time and to directly interact with the families I THON for as well as my peers dancing beside me for a cure.”
Niko shared that their goals go far beyond THON™ 2023. In fact, they are hopeful that their participation will encourage future Nittany Lion and Mic Man duos to continue to support and make an effort to dance in THON.
Both Michael and Niko undertake many events involving THON throughout the year including Family Carnival and THON 5K. Although their roles over the weekend are already significant, they are seeking to do the utmost possible to fight for a cure. They look forward to seeing their impact through face-to-face interactions with Four Diamond families on the floor.
“THON to me means the most selfless thing anyone can do for children and families that have been dealt with some of the worst thing’s life can throw at you. Many of us take for granted what an incredible life we all have, and rarely think of the fact that others have to go through trials and tribulations just to survive. Dancing at THON is just another test and limit I want to bring my mind and body to, to prove to myself and to these families that I am willing to do whatever it takes to fight for a cure. When I hear the word “THON”, I instantly get goosebumps, because that is the effect that THON has on me,” Mike stated.