This piece was originally going to be a write up of my experience at THON '13 this weekend. It morphed into something else, because THON isn't (and shouldn't be) about one person's experience--and you can't really put THON into words. It just is. And if you haven't been...it's difficult to describe. In that way, it's so indicative of what it is to be a member of the Penn State community.
When I was a student at PSU, I was your stereotypical self-centered college student. I was lazy. I was, to a degree, entitled. I didn't truly have a clue about the real world, and what it could possibly entail.
I thought life was easy, and it was. So it's probably fitting that I selfishly start off this THON post talking about me.
I can't say how much I regret not being more involved in THON (I volunteered halfheartedly my sophomore year) and other charitable organizations during my time at Penn State. There's not much point in harping on it now; all I can do is affect what I now can affect, and donate whatever time and money I can now to make up for whatever regrets I may have. I can reflect, and look on in awe at the thousands of students who are doing what I didn't or wouldn't do when I was at Penn State: care about others, about the kids. And the respect I have for all of them for doing what I couldn't is remarkable.
THON is so incredibly different than it was when I was a student, ten years ago; it's moved from Rec Hall to the BJC, and it's increased its donation amount four fold, and its number of volunteers exponentially. Now, it's a rare student who doesn't participate in THON; when I was there, I was friends with no dancers and, as I was GDI, knew less than a dozen volunteers over my four years.
All these changes to the culture of THON are amazing, and for the better.
We talk about what we are, and use the term "culture" as sarcastically derisively as Mark Emmert intended. But now, where Penn State is as a community and what we've become in the years since the dark years, since we all rallied around the University this past year, nothing epitomizes what WE ARE more than THON.
I know that so many who are associated with THON won't take credit or take much credit for the hard work and dedication that they've put in, year round, to make this event a success every year. They say, rightly so, that what they go through is nothing compared to what the THON families, and all families who are affected by pediatric cancer, go through. That's not an incorrect assessment. But those two sentiments aren't mutually exclusive, and I feel so many feels for all the families that are helped by the Four Diamonds Fund--but I'm also privileged to associate myself with the students who help make those families' lives just a little bit easier.
I couldn't be more proud of my brother, dancer #286A in THON 2013, and all the other dancers and volunteers. You inspire me, and continue to prove to all of us, and to those in the world who actually pay attention, that Penn State is so much more than what many want us to be.
It is probably cliched and arrogant and a different kind of self-centered than what I was in school, but I'm at the point where I don't care. At Penn State, we are special. We are not normal. We are legends.
We are Penn State.
editor's note: I apologize for the lack of quality of the photos...contrary to popular belief (and my Comm degree), I'm not a professional with great equipment. I hope you all enjoy them nonetheless.
Also, VIDEO BLOGS! They're a thing now. Check out my bro's here (with a cameo from yours truly). It's a slight insight into the awesome insanity that is THON.
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