THON Success Stories: Hershey helps two lives within one family

February 20, 2008

Mount Joy, Pa. -- When Tara Hoffmaster was ready to start high school, her family moved from her hometown of Mount Joy, Pa., to realize their dream of living near the ocean in Myrtle Beach, S.C. She had just begun ninth grade there and developed a great new set of friends when she came down with an extended illness doctors initially thought to be mononucleosis. At Children's Hospital of Philadelphia she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, so her family headed back to central Pennsylvania so she could receive treatment at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where it was more convenient for them.

"Almost as soon as I got to Hershey to start my treatments we were introduced to someone from Four Diamonds," explained Hoffmaster. "My family felt so reassured that not only were the staff at Hershey going to make me better but the financial burden would be taken care of as well by the Four Diamonds (Fund)."

Following about two years of treatment, including chemotherapy, the teen's cancer did not recur, and 11 years ago Tara Hoffmaster was considered cancer-free. Today, she and her husband of nine years, Trent, live in Mount Joy with three children, two of whom are from a previous relationship. Their 7-year-old son, Noah, was born at Hershey Medical Center.

"I wasn't sure if the chemotherapy would allow me to be a mother, but I am happy and blessed to say that I am and that my kids are definitely my biggest accomplishment!" said the proud mother. "Noah was born with a lot of heart complications and has also spent a lot of time at Hershey and has gone through a lot in his 7 years of life. I am also happy to say that he is doing fantastic now, and he gets better every year."

Hoffmaster is grateful for the help that she and her family have received from The Four Diamonds Fund and the Hershey Medical Center. "My Mom, Dad and the rest of my family has always expressed how quickly everything was taken care of, and for my family to have so much stress on them at that time, Four Diamonds was always there if they ever needed any help or if they had any questions," recalled Hoffmaster. "My family is not the most wealthy family when it comes to money, and I know for my Mom, it was such a blessing for Four Diamonds to take care of everything for us.

"I know that my whole family would say that at a time of stress and uncertainty, they certainly helped my family feel more at ease and relaxed, knowing that everything would be OK and that they were there if they needed anything."

Penn State students have raised more than $46 million for pediatric cancer since Penn State's Interfraternity Council (IFC)/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, also known as THON, got its start in 1973. In 2007 alone, Penn State students raised more than $5.2 million through THON to support The Four Diamonds Fund. In addition, in spring 2004 Penn State students pledged to raise $10 million over six years to create the Pediatric Cancer Pavilion at the Penn State Children's Hospital, on the Hershey Medical Center campus. For more details, visit

For more information about Penn State's Dance Marathon, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, visit For details about how The Four Diamonds Fund supports pediatric cancer patients and research, visit

To donate to THON, visit online.




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Last Updated March 19, 2009