by Scott Katherine

Written by Anirudh Ganesean and Allison McCarty 

One of the most memorable and emotional THON™ Weekend traditions is Hair Donation. Any Penn State student is eligible to apply as long as their hair is at least 12 inches long and has not been color-treated. Volunteers then come on stage and have their hair cut in front of the entire arena. THON Hair Donation has been partnering with Wigs for Kids, Inc. to collect the hair that is donated. Wigs for Kids, Inc. creates custom hairpieces for children who have lost their hair due to illnesses, such as childhood cancer. This tradition embodies the spirit of selflessness and compassion that defines THON, as students make a tangible difference in the lives of children battling cancer. 

Tara Hoenscheid is a senior R&R committee member and volunteers for THON through her Greek organization Alpha Omicron Pi x Phi Kappa Psi. Although Tara cherishes her long hair, she decided to apply to donate to benefit a much greater cause. Her motivation is deeply rooted in her personal experience of witnessing her mother’s cancer battle.  

Tara THONs because of her Mom. Tara’s mom survived her cancer battle a few years ago, and throughout the process, Tara was able to witness first-hand the beautiful act that wig donation truly is for cancer patients. Tara explains that “watching my mom go through the process of receiving a wig after losing her hair was amazing. I was really able to see the confidence that having a wig brought back in her, and I am so excited to hopefully give back to another person going through this same process in this way”.  

For Tara and 28 other participants, THON is more than just a fundraising event; it is a community-driven movement driven by empathy and solidarity. Throughout the weekend, more than 336 inches of hair has been donated by students.  

Beyond the glittering lights and pulsating energy of THON Weekend, there lies a deep sense of purpose and camaraderie among students united in the fight against pediatric cancer. The Hair Donation event serves as a necessary reminder of compassion and heartlessness.  

As Tara eagerly anticipates the culmination of months of hard work and dedication during THON Weekend 2024, she looks forward to not only supporting children battling cancer but also forging lasting connections with her fellow committee members and sorority sisters. 

Featured Image: Kaitlyn Berkey | THON™ Photography