by Ella Rubenstein

This past weekend the annual THON™ 5K powered by PNC got started outside of The Bryce Jordan Center. Each year, beginning in 2002, THON holds the 3.1 mile race to spread awareness of its mission to put an end to childhood cancer. With many Four Diamonds families in attendance, volunteers, runners, and onlookers alike were treated to live music and pre-race games and activities.

With the theme “Chasing Fearless Futures”, Public Relations Media Development Committee Members chased down some 5K participants to get their thoughts on this years race.

Gavin Baumgardner (Fourth-year, Treasurer for Axis Benefiting THON):

Q: What are you most excited for about the THON 5K? 

A: “I’m most excited for it to be over. I am not a runner at all; I don’t plan to be a runner. If I just finish the race that is an absolute W for me. Hoping I don’t embarrass myself today.”

Q: Why do you THON? 

A: “I THON for my mom. My mom is a former cancer survivor. She was diagnosed back in 2020. She’s been in remission since 2021. Just thinking about her today, doing this for her today.” 

Alyssa Schmelzle (Fourth-year, Delta Phi Epsilon):

Q:  What are you most excited for today? 

A:  “I am so excited to be with all of my friends in support of something that we are all so passionate about; the games, the music, and everything else has been so fun!” 

Q: Why do you THON? 

A:  “I THON so that no parent ever has to hear the phrase “your child has cancer” and so every child has a chance for more laughter and more smiles!” 

Sofia Hoyer (Second-year, THON Entertainment DJ Captain):

Q: What are you most excited about for the THON 5K? 

A: “I am most excited to see everyone start the race and then end the race too and just having a good time in general… and playing games over by our table that we have set up and the lawn games.” 

Photo: Lucas Walker

Amelia Cassaday (Fourth-year, THON Special Events Captain):

Q: Why do you THON? 

A: “I THON for more hugs, more smiles, and because of all the family and friends that have gone through cancer and to find a cure ultimately.”

Q: What are you most excited for about the THON 5K? 

A: “I’m super excited for the THON 5K today because I’ve never done it before. So this is my first year actually running it and so I’m excited to do it with my little sister who goes to Penn State now. She’s a freshman this year, and I’m a senior, so it’ll be a little fun activity for us to do together.”

Amanda Dait (Fourth-year, Servestate)

Q: What are you most excited for during the 5K today? 

A: “This is my first 5K and I had decided at the beginning of the year that I wanted the THON 5K to be my first one ever. And so, I’m excited to be here with my org ServeState and to be able to run it with all of my friends.” 

Q: Why do you THON? 

A: “I THON for the Shiffers first of all. They’re a great THON family. We’ve had them since our org was started. But in general, I just THON so that all of the kids can have a happy, bright future.” 

Photo: Lucas Walker

Sophia Alterio (Third-year, Advertising)

Q: Why do you THON?

A: “[I THON]to help save kids with childhood cancer and do something bigger than myself with the community.”

Q: What out of the 4 diamonds, strength, honesty, wisdom, and courage, which one do you feel represents you the most?

A: “I would say courage because no matter what I always try to strive for my best no matter what circumstance comes my way.”

Q: Why are you running in the 5K today?

A: “I’m running with Trilogy for the THON kids and our families to get to know everyone and make a difference.”

THON 5K powered by PNC is held to support THON’s yearlong effort to raise funds and spread awareness for the fight against childhood cancer. Each year, the support and excitement from the race brings attention to THON’s next big campaign: Dream Forward. Running from October 23rd to November 8th, the 5th Annual Dream Forward Campaign aims to raise $850,000 for Four Diamonds, THON’s sole beneficiary. Join us in the fight, For The Kids®.

Header Photo: Jacob Sparages