Penn State Public Broadcasting to produce THON documentary

No sitting. No sleeping. Forty-six hours of dancing “for the kids.” For almost 40 years, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) has been raising money to fight pediatric cancer. And every year during one special weekend in February, thousands of students come together to dance “for the kids.”

Penn State Public Broadcasting is producing a documentary that will chronicle THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. "For the Kids: Penn State’s Dance Marathon" will follow students balancing classes, homework and exams while maintaining a tireless commitment to THON. The 60-minute television program will document this yearlong undertaking -- beginning with the selection of the overall committee, and culminating on that magical weekend in February.

To watch a trailer of the documentary, go to http://www.wpsu.org/thondocumentary online.

"For the Kids" also will illustrate how families deal with the difficult news that a child they love has cancer, and will explore the impact of the support families and children receive from The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital and Penn State students.

“THON is a truly inspirational story,” said Jeff Hughes, executive producer of the documentary. “Not only the 46-hour event, but the entire year that leads up to it. More than 15,000 students are involved in raising millions of dollars for the Four Diamonds Fund every year.”

Since the first students danced in 1973, THON has raised nearly $80 million dollars to fight pediatric cancer. What’s more difficult to measure are the numerous lives touched throughout the history of this event.

"We're hoping to give the public a sense of how this incredible event can impact the lives of not only the families struggling with childhood cancer, but also the students who work so hard to make the event a success," said Cole Cullen, producer of the documentary.

Penn State Public Broadcasting is currently seeking corporate and private funders to underwrite production costs. The documentary is expected to debut in the fall of 2012. It will debut on WPSU-TV and is expected to be distributed nationally later that year. 

Underwriting opportunities are available to help make this project possible. Contact Tom Yourchak at 814-863-5596 or tly3@psu.edu for more information.

Penn State Public Broadcasting, licensed to Penn State, produces noncommercial television, radio and online media. Their public service media programming and complementary outreach materials address important societal issues for Pennsylvania, the nation and the world.

Last Updated August 23, 2011