by Ella Rubenstein

Written by: Claire Nguyen, Shawyon Poursaba, & Colin Cross

Axis Benefiting THON™, established in 2011, is one of the Special Interest Organizations (SIOs) at Penn State. Its mission is to “Set the standard of hard work and persistence in the fight against pediatric cancer. With passion and dedication, our mission is to support the Calvanelli family, surpass our fundraising goals, and build lasting relationships – For the Kids® and for a cure.” The group has raised tens of thousands of dollars via fundraisers throughout the year such as pasta and taco dinners, sales in the HUB-Robeson Center, karaoke nights, and Lion Shrine fundraisers.   

Family Relations Chair Dan Gifford says his favorite event is the Lion Shrine Fundraiser, where Axis members take professional photographs of anyone who wants a picture at the shrine. Each photo can be bought for a $5 donation.  

“It’s just fun to see families come back and take pictures,” Gifford said. “For the Whiteout game, we saw a proposal. Just being here at the Lion Shrine and seeing everyone come back for football games, it really is special.”  

Axis is paired with the Calvanelli Family and looks for ways members of the organization can connect with them. Gifford and Zach Terefenko, the Family Relations Chairs, call the family every week to talk and catch up. Axis tries to meet with the family a couple times per semester, often hanging out at their house, going to the park, or bowling. At the beginning of October, Axis visited its family’s house and engaged in a nerf war with the two boys, Ayrton and Declan.   

Axis prides themselves on being a close-knit family that supports its members. Many of those in the organization decided to join because of the bonds you can make in a small group.  

“I felt like one thing that was important to me coming here to Penn State was getting close to a small group of people and Axis really provides that,” Gavin Baumgardner, Treasurer for Axis Benefiting THON, said. “We’re only about 30 strong so being able to go to the meetings…it’s easy to meet everyone. [Axis] just made coming to Penn State less intimidating.”   

Axis’ Secretary, Ashley Klein, says her goal for the organization is “To keep promoting that culture and continue being a top 10 fundraising SIO and just push our members as hard as we can, and really just support that culture that we’ve had for so long.” 

Axis has selected and announced their four dancers for THON 2024 as of November 14: Axis President Olivia O’Mara, Treasurer Gavin Baumgardner, Fundraising Chair Justin Kern, and Family Relations chair Zach Terefenko have all been chosen to stand for 46 hours in THON Weekend 2024.  

Cover photo credit to: Elizabeth Hoole