by Scott Katherine

Written by Esther Gershenson, Matt Theirer, and Taylor McCaffrey

As you know, to culminate a year-long effort of fundraising For The Kids®, Penn State students and Four Diamonds families join in celebration at THON™ Weekend. February 16th through the 18th will be full of music, performances, and most importantly, dancing! At the center of the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC) our incredible dancers will leave it all out on the floor for 46 hours! How can one prepare for such a thing? Well, we went ahead and asked some aspiring and selected dancers themselves. Here’s what we found fueled some of them to take on such a big feat: 

To dance in THON, you can either fundraise independently or get elected on behalf of your organization. Many dancers have been involved in THON already in one way or another and are inspired to go further. The dancers can be thought of as the heart of THON Weekend, as they are the ones who stand for 46 hours without rest.  

Dancers preparing to enter the BJC at THON 2023. Photo by Ben Guenther.

Independent Dancer Couples hoping to dance in THON 2024 

Dancers may be elected through their Organizations or selected through Independent Dancer Couples (IDC). The dancers take action to help empower our year-long efforts culminating in a 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon in February. They are supported by THON Volunteers on the floor who bring them different things to help them keep standing. They also are supported by the Four Diamonds families who give constant encouragement throughout the 46 hours. We spoke with two Independent Dancer Couples hoping to be selected for THON 2024. The first pair is Carly Weisfelner and Emily Locker, and the second is Capri Norris and Caroline Klaiber. Carly and Emily are both 5th years here at Penn State with a bunch of prior experience in THON. Capri and Caroline are also highly involved as they are both Captains for THON 2024. These IDCs were both inspired by THON’s mission and wanted to take that extra step in hopes of dancing. We spoke with them about their initiatives and their fundraising efforts.  

Carly Weisfelner and Emily Locker

Why did you decide you wanted to try to dance in THON 2024?  

“We’ve been involved with THON since we were freshmen and since it’s our last year at Penn State we wanted to give it our all and give back to the THON community since we’ve seen how amazing it is.” 

What are some fundraisers you have done so far to help your chances in being one of the IDCs selected to dance? 

“Some of the fundraisers we have done were Pasta Parties, Taco Meals, online shopping at boutiques, and a whole bunch of dare boards.” 

Capri Norris and Caroline Klaiber

Why did you decide you wanted to try to dance in THON 2024?  

“I wanted to try to dance for THON™ 2024 because I am so inspired by THON’s mission… Being able to see the work we do as a student organization have an active impact on these families is such an incredible feeling that I can’t even begin to put into words. I truly believe growing up is a beautiful thing and being able to raise funds in hopes to one day dance in celebration is why I am raising funds in hopes to dance as an Independent Dancer Couple this year.” 

What are some fundraisers you have done so far to help your chances in being one of the IDCs selected to dance? 

“Caroline and I have been heavily involved in participating in a variety of different promotional events as well as Dream Forward events such a Phone-A-THON and THON Trivia Night to receive donations and crediting funds. We are currently planning a few alternative fundraisers as well!” 

Selected Dancers for THON 2024 

In early fall, Alpha Delta Pi (ADPi), as well as their partnered fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, held elections to each fill 3 alotted dancer spots. After an involved application process and individual presentations, the chapter and board voted. Shannon Ludwig and Cameron Piecewicz were two of the sisters chosen to represent the sorority on the dance floor.  

Shannon is a senior majoring in Advertising/Public Relations, has been involved in THON through multiple committees, and now is the THON family relations chair for ADPi. I asked Shannon, a question that she has no doubt heard before: “Why do you THON?”  

Shannon says: “This question I always have trouble putting into words. When I became the family relations chair and read about our families, I realized that they all have siblings. I can’t imagine a life without my sister so I THON so no one has to lose a sibling/best friend”. Shannon goes on to say that what she is most looking forward to about THON is “spending time with [her] Four Diamond families. [She’s] created a bond with them that she holds very close to her heart and spending time with the kids brings her so much joy.” But why dance? Shannon feels that by dancing in THON, she’ll be able to represent ADPi’s families and truly understand the meaning of the courage that they have shown her. 

Cameron is the president of Alpha Delta Pi, a senior majoring in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Coming from out-of-state, she hadn’t been familiar with THON until she arrived. In previous years, Cam stood with her sorority and as part of a Rules and Regulations Committee. Now, she gets the opportunity to fully embody THON’s mission by dancing.  

Cam finds her inspiration to THON in her own students. In her student-teaching, she sees “students get to experience the joys of childhood and it is something all children should have the opportunity to experience.” Cam says that “it is so important for every child to have the typical happy, playful, fun childhood they deserve. No child or family should have to struggle through all of the terrible things that come with childhood cancer, or worry if they will get to celebrate another birthday”.  

In preparation for the jam-packed weekend, Cam has made it a priority to cut down on her caffeine intake throughout the year. She is beyond excited to experience the atmosphere of THON weekend from the floor and make incredible memories.  

If you feel inspired by THON’s mission, and by the stories of this year’s potential and selected dancers, think about dancing in THON with an org or with a friend! Dancing THON Weekend is one of the most fulfilling experiences of THON and Penn State as a whole. As the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, we have the ability to make an incredible impact on the lives of children, dancing for a cure. Consider reaching out to your organization’s THON chair, emailing, or visiting the THON office for more information.

Header photo: Kaitlyn Berkey