by Emma Saltzman

By Liviah Yudt

THON™ is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy with over 16,500 student volunteers and of alumni and supporters! Students make year-round efforts to raise money to support children and families impacted by childhood cancer. THON Weekend takes place annually in February where hundreds of students participate in a no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon for 46 hours. However, the THON we know today didn’t become what it is until 35 years after the philanthropy’s start.  

The idea of a dance marathon to raise money for childhood cancer was proposed by IFC president Bill Lear in 1972. The first THON Weekend commenced the following year in 1973. Rather than thousands of students gathering in the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC), 78 students participated in what was called the IFC dance marathon. The volunteers danced in the HUB ballroom for 30 hours and raised about $2,000! THON did not become the official name until 1987, fifteen years after the dance marathons debut.

As THON’s numbers began to grow, some changes had to be made. Four years after the first dance marathon Four Diamonds became the sole beneficiary in 1977. In an effort to accommodate the increasing attendance during the dance marathon weekend, it was moved to the White Building in 1979. Then again to Rec Hall in 1999. Most recently in 2007, THON moved to the BJC and shortened the dance period from 48 hours to 46.  

THON’s continuous growth has allowed for many amazing milestones to be reached! In 1983 students raised six figures for the first time. Then in 1992 the million-dollar mark was reached raising $1,141,145.38. The most recent THON Weekend revealed a total of $16,955,683.63. This philanthropy knows no bounds when it comes to helping Four Diamonds children and their families. THON continues to grow and break new records. Throughout the 50+ years of THONs existence, the yearlong efforts that lead us to our beloved THON Weekend has helped 4,700 families. Despite all the changes through the years one thing has stayed consistent, THON’s mission. THON’s evolution has all been done For The Kids® in effort to help more families so one day we can dance in celebration.