THON: A look back to 1980

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The student dancers in this photograph are performing exercises to avoid muscle-cramping during the 1980 version of THON. Held in the White Building with the theme of “Dance the Night Away,” more than 300 couples took part that year in the no-sitting, no-sleeping, 48-hour event, held in the Mary Beaver White Building on the University Park campus.

THON began in 1973 as a 30-hour fundraiser and dance competition in the HUB Ballroom. Ever-increasing crowds forced its removal to the more spacious White Building in 1979, where it remained until moving to Rec Hall in 1999, and then again in 2007 to the Bryce Jordan Center.

The dancers you see here in 1980 helped to secure more than $86,000 in donations that year, an extraordinary amount at the time, but only the beginning of a tremendous outpouring of generosity — in 2016, its 44th year, THON raised a total of $9.8 million to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund, helping thousands of children and their families at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center fight pediatric cancer.

Today, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon is a year-long effort and the world's largest student-run philanthropy. This year’s THON weekend will be held Feb. 17-19.

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Last Updated February 16, 2017