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February 17-20 marked the 40th anniversary of Penn State's IFC/Panhellenic Dance MaraTHON. THON is a year-long effort to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer for children in Hershey, Pennsylvania. This year, I had the incredible opportunity to represent Beta Sig as a THON 2012 dancer. Alongside my fellow brother, Josh Windt, we stood for 46 hours to show the families facing cancer that we stand beside them in their fight. The struggles of pain and sleep deprivation we faced in 46 hours is nothing compared to the hardships those children face each and every day.

The support of the entire brotherhood that weekend was outstanding. Looking up in the stands at any point, I was able to gain strength in seeing dozens of brothers cheering us on and holding up our letters high. I would have not have been able to make it through this experience without the help of those that stood by me throughout the entire weekend.

Over the last 6 months along with Kappa Delta, our partner sorority, Beta Sig has worked hard to fundraise and spread awareness for pediatric cancer. Together, we raised more than $82,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund. In the end, Penn State students raised an outstanding $10,686,924.83! The impact that we continue to make on the lives of children and families across the country through THON shows our true colors as a school and signifies what Penn State is all about. I would like to thank you all for your continuous support throughout the year and especially during THON weekend. Together, we will make a difference in the life of a child.

Jeff Bloom '12

Click here to view more THON 2012 photos


THON is always a memorable and amazing experience to see and hear about. Here is an article below by a Collegian Staff Writer, Erika Spicer, about a family's struggle with cancer and how THON brought them hope.

In 2008, Brian Cunningham was one of about 500 kids in the country diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma –– the fastest-growing and most aggressive form of human cancer.

Brian, 10 years old at the time, was energetic and seemingly healthy the night before his last day of fourth grade –– that is, until his mother, Susan noticed a strange lump on her son's neck as she cupped her hands around his face to say goodnight.

"I didn't feel anything, I didn't even know it was there," Brian, now 13, said of his painless, swollen lymph node.

Though Brian was asymptomatic, the Cunninghams still took him to the doctor. That's when their lives began to change.

"It was just this whirlwind," Susan, 43, said of the overwhelming stream of doctor visits and consultations.

The doctors promptly responded to Brian's situation, telling the Cunninghamfamily to travel to the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to consult with a surgeon, who told them to wait a week, thinking it was just a reactive lymph node, Brian's mother said.

After a week of waiting, doctors removed the lymph node and called the Cunninghams with the bad news that Brian had Burkitt's lymphoma. The call was made on July 3, the same day as the Cunninghams' 15th wedding anniversary.

While most cases of Burkitt's are discovered during stage three, Brian's cancer was diagnosed at stage two — something to be thankful for, Susan said.

Treatment was intensive, lasting only three months and ending in September 2008, Susan said.

During that time, the family learned of the Four Diamonds Fund through their stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey, Pa., and regular hospital visits.

The fund was a blessing financially, they said.

"There were some medicines and single injections that were $1,200," Brian's father, John, 58, said. "It's just phenomenal what [The Four Diamonds Fund does] –— you don't even have to do the paperwork, nothing."

Susan said the Four Diamonds Fund provided relief to the family in what was an otherwise overwhelming time, by freeing them from the hassle of dealing with medical bills or co-pay fees at doctor visits.

Along with paying for Brian's treatments, the Four Diamonds Fund also provided free vouchers for gas and free meals at the hospital cafeteria, along with their stay at the Ronald McDonald House, Brian's father said.

"It's a horrible thing we went through, but that place was just so comforting in so many ways," Susan said.

Today, Brian is in remission, and prospects are looking good, she said.

"In a way, we're fortunate with Burkitt's –– the chance of relapse is very rare," Susan said.

Brian has regained his strength since his treatment in 2008, and the family will attend the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon for the third time since THON 2009.

The family said they are excited to attend the event with their student organizations, Beta Sigma Beta fraternity and Kappa Delta sorority.

"It's a wonderful thing centered around a terrible thing," Susan said of THON. "It's a weird emotion to describe –– it's very therapeutic."

John said he hopes the Four Diamonds Fund remains on the forefront of THON volunteers' minds.

"I really hope [students] understand how important this is to us and the Four Diamonds Fund," he said