It is once again time at Penn State when students put aside the cares of studying and writing papers to dedicate an entire weekend For The Kids, THON. THON is a year round fundraising event benefiting The Four Diamonds Fund, Conquering Childhood Cancer. Over the past 34 years, the students of THON have raised more than $41 million and have helped thousands of children and families fight pediatric cancer.
This also means that it is time for the Hope Express run. The Hope Express is a 135-mile run that was created with the intention of bridging the gap between the families on the 7th floor at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA and the Dancers at the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (aka THON).
The Hope Express will begin with a celebration for the families at Hershey Medical Center, and will end at the Bryce Jordan Center to help kick off THON weekend. The run will be completed by a team over a 24 hour period. This team will consist of THON alumni and Four Diamonds families (past and present). Just as THON dancers participate in the no-sitting, no-sleeping, two day dance marathon held every February, enduring hours of fatigue, pain and delirium, the Hope Express runners will have to endure the cold, harsh, winter weather of a very cold night in February. Anyone involved in either activity understands that what they are going to endure does not compare to the harsh reality of a cancer diagnosis and its treatment. Everyone involved knows that they are playing a small albeit essential role in one of Penn State's greatest and most unifying traditions.
And EVERYONE knows that they are doing this For the Kids, to honor them in their courageous battle against childhood cancer.
This year the Penn State Mont Alto Cheerleading Squad, along with our own Nittany Lion mascot has received a great honor. They have been asked to be at the starting line for the Hope Express run as the first hand off to start the run. It will be started this Thursday evening, February 16, starting at the Hershey Medical Center.
This shares a special place in the hearts of the cheerleaders and Coach Yoder. Coach Yoder was involved in THON when she attended Penn State, and the majority of her squad this year are participants in THON. One of the male cheerleaders on the squad is even representing Mont Alto as a dancer for this year's THON event.