by Mehreen Hoque

Written February 1st, 2023  

Written by Ashley Balderson and Stephen Holtzman

Each year, THON™ gives students the opportunity to enter a lottery for the chance to be picked to dance. Independent Dancer Couples (IDCs) must raise money in order to enter the weighted lottery. The more money they make, the better their chances are of being chosen to dance. We interviewed Maddie Lucidi, who recently got picked to dance in THON 2023. The opportunity to IDC gives any current Penn State student the opportunity to fundraise with one other person (as a couple) and be entered into a dancer lottery with the chance of being picked to dance during THON Weekend. The IDC dancer lottery is held on January 24th, so about 3 weeks before THON Weekend. To be entered into the lottery, you and your IDC partner together must raise a minimum of $3,000, which will get you your first lottery ticket. Then, every $500 raised after that is an additional lottery ticket. Maddie Lucidi and her partner, Jenna Olsakowski, were chosen to dance as a couple. Maddie explained that “going into the lottery, my goal was to have the most lottery tickets we could get, so we fundraised like crazy all throughout the year.” We interviewed Maddie about her experience fundraising: 

Tell us about yourself:

Hi! My name is Madelynn (Maddie) Lucidi. I am a Senior majoring in Supply Chain & Information Systems and minoring in both Economics and International Business. I studied abroad during the Spring 2022 semester in Rome, Italy with my best friends! I am from Moorestown, NJ, which is in South Jersey and in the Summer I spend most of my time in Ocean City, NJ. My hobbies include cooking, baking, playing sports, watching/listening to Barstool Podcasts, and scrolling on Tiktok. I have wanted to dance in THON since Freshman Year.

When I was in high school, I volunteered for the Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation, whose mission was to spread teen cancer awareness and provide support to hospitalized teens. My high school history teacher’s best friend, Alicia, passed away when she was just a Senior in high school, so I felt very connected to the nonprofit’s mission. I wanted to continue my efforts of raising awareness for a good cause when I came to Penn State. Having an older sister, Sophia, who was heavily involved as a THON Chair for our sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, inspired me to get involved in THON Freshman Year. After experiencing my first THON in 2020 and being blown away, I knew that by the time I was a Senior, I wanted to make a difference.

A personal reason as to why I felt connected to THON was due to my Grandfather’s (G-Pop’s) diagnosis of cancer. I saw first-hand the physical and emotional battle he had to withstand day in and day out. I simply could not imagine a young child having to go through that same thing, if not worse, especially with their entire lives still to live. Unfortunately, my G-Pop passed away this Summer, but his passing motivated me to help find a cure to this terrible disease. I was motivated to help provide financial and emotional support to Four Diamonds Families and to give children the opportunity to live out their dreams. In August, about to start my Senior Year, I knew I wanted to put my heart and soul not only into fundraising and spreading THON’s mission, but to ultimately dance during THON Weekend- for my G-Pop and others that we’ve lost and to celebrate our survivors. 

What are some ways that you fundraised?:

We fundraised through various ways. The most successful way we fundraised was through pushing our DonorDrive- by posting on Facebook, our Instagram stories, LinkedIn, and texting/emailing our friends and family with our DonorDrive link attached.

Our second most successful way of fundraising was surprisingly through crediting opportunities. The THON directors/captains/committees/liaisons hold numerous crediting opportunities all year round. A big one is Phone-A-THON where we were credited $500. Taking advantage of these crediting opportunities not only allowed us to raise more money, but to feel more connected to THON and the leaders supporting us. All the events that are held like the THON 5k and IDC Diamond Pursuit are events that inspired me and made me feel more determined to dance.

Our third most successful way of fundraising was through THONvelopes. I purposely sent THONvelopes to people that were more comfortable writing a cheque than clicking a link such as my grandmothers, as well as to people that would appreciate receiving a personalized letter from me about THON, rather than me sending them a text like my friends parents.

Finally, our fourth most successful way of fundraising was through alternate fundraisers- we held two breakfast sandwich fundraisers and one pasta and meatballs dinner. For each meal, we delivered directly to the customer’s door, which allowed us to charge a higher price and in the end raise more money. 100% of our revenue from alt fundraisers was donated directly to THON.

Ultimately, I found that people love effort. For every THONvelope sent, I hand wrote a note to every person, in addition to a self-made pamphlet with THON information and a printed out picture of my IDC. For every single donation that I received, I mailed a thank you note to the donor. I wanted my family and friends that donated to me to know how much their support really meant to me because without them I would not be dancing! 

What are you most excited for?:

I honestly don’t know what I am most excited for because right now I am so emotionally overwhelmed at the fact that I was chosen to dance just a few days ago and THON Weekend is so soon! However, some things that I am very excited for are to simply be back in the BJC after not being there last year since I was studying abroad and the year before since it was covid year. I am excited to see the THON families on stage and the DR captains lead the line dance! I don’t know what to expect other than pure magic- it honestly is making me tear up just thinking about it and I can’t believe it is only 16 days away! I remember seeing the dancers during THON my Freshman year and thinking of them as celebrities or allstars. I hope to inspire other Penn State students to want to devote their time to THON as I have the past few years.