by Scott Katherine

Written by Barbara Price and Cecily Battaglia 

THON dancer Manuel Melo, Manny, is a member of Phi Kappa Theta (Phi Who), which is a social fraternity on campus. Phi Who focuses on brotherhood and building relationships amongst students on campus. Throughout the year, Phi Who raises money for THON. Some of their fundraising events include barbeques, alumni events, and IM sports competitions. The brothers compete in football in the fall and soccer in the spring. These events draw a large turnout, with the majority of Phi Who’s fundraising coming from events hosted throughout the year.  

Every THON dancer has a different reason behind why they choose to dance in THON. However, they all share the same passion behind THON’S mission and fighting for a cure. Manny THONs for his dad. He shared that “being a member of a cancer family is hard enough when it’s a parent who is sick, but when it’s a child is something no one should have to go through.”  

Manny holds the position of one of the THON chairs within his organization and spent the year preparing for THON weekend. Manny shared more about his role, “As one of the THON chairs for my organization, I spend a lot of time putting events together and reaching out to families. We fundraise a lot through our events, but I also do a lot of fundraising through social media. My mom also posts on her Facebook page which helps me fundraise.”  

When a dancer first steps foot in the BJC they are cheered on by hundreds of student volunteers. He said, “Coming into the Bryce Jordan Center and seeing it filled with people was unreal. Walking into the BJC through the human tunnel makes you feel special. Knowing that all those people are there to cheer you on is so exciting and a great way to start off the weekend.” 

Phi Who are partnered with five Four Diamonds families. Throughout the year, the brothers interact with them at different fundraising events and travel to their houses to visit them. Manny said, “We invite all of our families to our fundraising events throughout the year in hopes to see them. Two of our families live in Virgina and three of our families live in Pennsylvania. We drive to our families houses and have dinner with them every once in a while.”  

The hospitality committee spends THON Weekend preparing meals for dancers and making sure they are fed and hydrated. When talking about dancer meals Manny said, “The meals are great. When your feet are tired and you’re hungry it is really nice that people are handing out free warm meals to you. My favorite meal so far has been the pasta, and I can’t wait to see the rest of the other options they have prepared for us.” 

THON Weekend is filled with many events, concerts, and performances. Each dancer has their own show that they are most excited about. When asked what Manny was most excited for, he said, “I can’t wait to experience the Pep Rally as a dancer. The BJC gets the most alive during Pep Rally. Everyone shows out and it gets so electric.”  

Featured Image: Sarah Lynn DeCarlo | THON™ Photography