THON benefits Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital cancer patients

February 19, 2009

Beginning at 6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 20, numerous mid-state families will join hundreds of students and other spectators at the 37th annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon - THON™ 2009, Dream Forward- in the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State, University Park. For 46 hours, 708 dancers will stay awake on their feet to pledge their support to conquer childhood cancer.

All proceeds from the weekend event benefit Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. THON has contributed more than $52 million to The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital since 1977, when it first partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund.

“It is hard to put the THON experience in words, especially the meaning of THON to the Four Diamonds children and their families,” said Dr. David Ungar, a pediatric oncologist at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. “For the Four Diamonds kids, THON is a family and a way of life. The students make the kids feel special and relationships formed at THON last for years. THON is a weekend away from cancer where the kids are the center of attention and the focus is on having fun. Kids look forward to THON for months. For many of them, THON ranks right along with Christmas as the biggest event of the year.”

Dancers, spectators and approximately 213 families will participate in numerous activities, including a pep rally with Penn State cheerleaders and athletes, kids’ mail call, performances by regional and local bands and a fashion show with the Four Diamonds’ patients as models.

Sunday afternoon, Four Diamonds’ families will share their stories with the dancers and volunteers during Family Hour. Noted as the most emotional aspect of the weekend, Family Hour gives the dancers motivation to endure the remaining few hours of the marathon. The Four Diamonds Fund assists children who are battling cancer and their families. The Fund pays for any medical expense not covered by a family’s insurance, covers ancillary expenses related to a child’s treatment and supports medical team members involved with a child’s care and treatment. The Four Diamonds Fund has helped more than 2,000 families since it was established in 1972.

The mission of The Four Diamonds Fund is to conquer childhood cancer by assisting children treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and their families, through superior care, comprehensive support and innovative pediatric cancer research initiatives. For more information about THON or The Four Diamonds Fund, contact the Four Diamonds office at (717) 531-6086 or go to

Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital is the only children’s hospital in central Pennsylvania and the region’s only pediatric trauma center. Children’s Hospital was ranked amongst the best of the best in U.S. News and World Report in its 2008 listing of the Best Children’s Hospitals.

Children’s Hospital is the leader in several specialties, including neonatal care, pediatric oncology, pediatric cardiology, pediatric surgery and pediatric trauma. For more information, please visit

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Last Updated March 19, 2009