Megan Marzella, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is an avid Netflix watcher and ice skater. She graduated from Penn State Lehigh Valley in 2016 and currently works at the DaVinci Science Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. THON has inspired her career as she works as a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization that supports children.
Megan first became involved with THON in 2012 as a freshman. Someone told her that there would be free pizza at an interest meeting, so she went and checked it out. During the meeting, a touching video about THON played. This moment inspired her to become a volunteer For the Kids™.
Megan vividly remembers her first THON. She drove up to Happy Valley for the final hours of THON weekend with a group of volunteers from Lehigh Valley. They were all standing outside in the freezing temperatures, hoping for a chance to step inside the Bryce Jordan Center. She recalls that someone in her group ended up getting hypothermia, but Megan would not leave her position in line. She was determined to find a way indoors to witness the Final Four. Eventually, a group of alumni gave up their spots for Megan and her group. “If they had not left, we would never have gotten inside,” Megan states. After experiencing the magic of Final Four, her passion for THON skyrocketed. Megan held many THON positions during her time as a student volunteer. Sophomore year, Megan was the Event Coordinator at Lehigh Valley. Junior year, she was a Family Relations chair and overall chair. Senior year, she continued as a Family Relations chair and danced in THON.
Dancing was her favorite THON memory. She applied every year of her Penn State career and received the opportunity during her senior year. Megan says, “it was the quickest but slowest weekend of my life.” She also loved being on the floor with the THON children and families and walking across the stage with them.
There are multiple reasons why Megan participates in THON, but there are two people who truly motivate her. These individuals are her THON child Sean, whose handwriting she has tattooed on her side, and her mother, who passed away in March from cancer. “I never understood what those families went through until I went through it,” Megan explains. She is inspired daily by all the kids with cancer and their families. Lainey Brown is another inspiration for Megan to continue to support THON’s mission. Sadly, Lainey passed away a few years ago, and her passing continues to stay with Megan to this day. “I have witnessed and gone to a lot of funerals, but seeing eight-year-old Laney in a casket was heartbreaking,” Megan conveys. Vinny Carano is also a huge inspiration to Megan. “He is a very passionate individual within THON and truly embodies what THON is,” Megan says.
The most eye-opening moment Megan had at THON was the Final Four. She explained that bereaved family hour was heartbreaking. At this moment, she was standing on the floor with all the other dancers. It was the first year since Lainey had passed away, and Megan broke down when she saw her on the screen. Even though they had all been standing for around forty-four hours and could barely stay awake, another dancer invited Megan to lean on him. This moment of kindness and support stuck with Megan and showed her how much the THON community truly is a family.
Megan currently inspires others to support THON’s mission by sharing her story. As an active member of the Lehigh Valley organization, she continues to explain how much THON has impacted her life and so many others within the community. She is passionate about what she believes in, and at the forefront of this passion is THON.