New Kensington students gearing up for THON and $50,000 goal

January 19, 2011

Students at Penn State New Kensington are sponsoring a series of events in January and February to benefit the Penn State Interfraternity Council/ Panhellenic Dance Marathon, known affectionately as THON.

Over the next four weeks, campus students will be canning, playing dodge ball, and lending emotional support by making "mail" for the kids and dancers for what is believed to be the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. THON is a University-wide event, and Kelly Sieja, THON Committee chair for the New Kensington campus, has set a campus goal of $50,000, the most ambitious total in campus history, which would double last year's final total.

"Our THON team put their hearts into this organization, said Sieja, a senior psychology major. "There is no doubt in my mind that our efforts will lead to another record-breaking year."

The campus record is $23,000, set last year. Deanna Mazur was the event's chair, and that total shattered the previous campus standard of $13,000 in 2004. Mazur stepped down as THON chair after serving two years and raising more than $30,000. The senior communications major is still involved, however, and will represent the campus as one of its four THON dancers.

The committee is hoping to raise the bar between Jan. 21 and 23, with collection efforts at Pittsburgh Mills, K-Mart and Golden Dawn in New Kensington, Dunkin Donuts in Tarentum, and Community Market franchises in Lower Burrell, Plum, Fox Chapel, and Natrona Heights. THON volunteers will collect money inside the mall entrances and outside the grocery stores. Last month, two canning weekends netted more than $25,000. The final canning weekend is set for Feb. 14-16 -- locations for the final weekend's effort have yet to be determined.

Fundraising activities continue at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 4, with a dodge ball tournament in the Athletics Center. Seven-person teams will vie for the coveted title. The entry fee is $35 per team, and includes a prize for the winning squad. Faculty, staff and alumni are encouraged to form a "seasoned" team and enter the fray. Those who don't want to "lace'em up" can sponsor a "fledgling" student team.

"This year has been the most successful and rewarding year yet," said Seija, who will graduate in May with a bachelor's degree. "I am so proud of every student and nonstudent who contributed in any way possible to this organization." I hope that a piece of THON remains in their hearts forever!"

THON culminates at Penn State University Park with a 46-hour, no sitting, no sleeping marathon from Feb. 18-20, that benefits the fight against pediatric cancer. Sophomores Nicole Thoma and Megan Pulaski, junior Kiki Wilkinson, and Mazur will represent the New Kensington campus at THON. Their inspirational slogan, chosen by the campus THON committee, is "Eight feet, four hearts, one cause...for the kids." The dancers will join more than 700 Penn State students from all the campuses at the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's University Park campus during THON weekend. All monies raised through the dance marathon directly benefit the Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, whose goal is to fight childhood cancer.

”I hope that a piece of THON remains in our donors hearts forever," concluded Sieja, who plans to pursue a master's degree in occupational therapy. "Giving a child a chance at life is what THON is all about."

Sieja is a native of West Deer, Pa. and attended Deer Lakes High School. She current lives with her parents in Tarentum.

For the canning weekend schedule, visit online.


  • New Kensington's third annual Dodge Ball tournament benefits THON. This year's competition is set for 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4, in the Athletics Center. Cost is $35 per team.

    IMAGE: Corey Stivason

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 21, 2011