York students dance at THON for the ones they love

February 05, 2015

Dancing for her big brother, Daniel, that’s what Samantha Glancey will tell you is her reason for wanting to participate in the annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, fondly known as THON. Glancey lost her brother to brain cancer when she was just 5-years-old; he was only 14. She will have the chance to dance in Daniel’s memory, along with Danielle Olson, as they represent Penn State York at THON, Feb. 20-22, at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park.   

THON is held each year to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital in Hershey. Proceeds from the event are used to help children diagnosed with pediatric cancer and their families. This year’s event begins at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, and ends 46 hours later at 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22.

“Cancer does not sleep, so why should I."
-- Samantha Glancey, THON dancer

Glancey, 19, a freshman at York majoring in psychology with a minor in theater, knows first-hand the importance of the Four Diamonds Fund at The Hershey Children’s Hospital; she was part of a Four Diamonds Family when her brother was sick. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, had surgery at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, and died in an 11-month period.

“I want to dance in honor of Daniel since he is not here to dance for himself,” said Glancey. “I will dance in his place, and I will make my big brother proud.”

A 2014 graduate of Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, Glancey was involved in her high school’s first mini-THON last year and she worked diligently on that event. There was no doubt in her mind that she would be a part of THON at Penn State York, and dancing is a dream come true for her.

The biggest concern for Glancey is simply being able to stay awake and active during the 46-hour marathon.  Quitting is not an option for her.

“Cancer does not sleep, so why should I,” Glancey said.

“I want to stand up for those who cannot, and I want to raise more awareness about this heart-breaking disease."
-- Danielle Olson, THON dancer

A 2012 graduate of Central York High School, Olson, 21, learned about THON in her senior year in high school.  She participated in her first min-THON then and has loved THON and everything it stands for since.

“I want to stand up for those who cannot, and I want to raise more awareness about this heart-breaking disease,” said Olson. “Cancer has impacted my life in many ways, and seeing a child spend their childhood in a hospital breaks my heart. I will do anything to help stop cancer,” she said.

Olson, too, is concerned about being able to stay awake but believes that her motivation, her grandmother's battle with colon cancer and her dedication to York’s THON families, along with all the other kids battling cancer, will keep her strong.

“Passion for THON is something you just can’t explain. I can share stories and pictures but that still can’t describe the feeling you get when you enter the BJC THON weekend. I get chills,” said Olson. “Seeing so many students and people come together for the kids, for the fight, for the cure, is truly something amazing."

The two dancers from the York campus were selected based on a variety of criteria, including the number of spirit points earned since last September through participation in fundraising activities for THON and the battle against pediatric cancer. THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, and the weekend dance marathon is the culmination of a yearlong fundraising effort. Glancey and Olson, along with hundreds of other dancers, won’t be sitting or sleeping for the entire weekend. This year’s theme is “Empower the Dreamers!”

Fundraising efforts for the campus THON committee included canning weekends (soliciting donations) at several locations in and around the York area, helping with a poker tournament, sponsoring a blood drive with the American Red Cross, a Fall Fest and a holiday party. Students involved in THON met weekly throughout the year and will make the trip to University Park to cheer on York’s dancers and all those who are dancing For The Kids (FTK).  

Yacayra Morales, a sophomore at Penn State York majoring in psychology, is the York THON primary chairperson and has led the group throughout the year with the help of other co-chairs, captains and students interested in finding a cure for pediatric cancer.

In addition to raising money, THON enables campus students to raise spirits by sponsoring local families dealing with cancer. Members of York’s THON Committee have provided encouragement to the families through visits, parties, cards and plenty of emotional support. The York campus sponsors Autumn Foller, 11, who is in treatment for leukemia and Ava Hagens, 7, who battled acute lymphoblastic leukemia and is in remission.

York’s dancers have been watching their diets, cutting caffeine, getting more sleep and exercising to prepare. Glancey and Olson are kindred spirits in their passion for dancing for the kids. While they both worry about staying on their feet during THON, they are thankful for the privilege to dance. Olson has experienced THON as a spectator but this will be a first-time for Glancey, who has known of the event since she was a little girl but never had the opportunity to attend.

THON 2014 raised more than $13.3 million last year and broke its own record of more than $12.3 million, bringing the total raised in the history of the event to more than $114 million for the Four Diamonds Fund at The Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

THON, a year-round fundraising event, is the largest single donor to the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital. The year culminates in a no sitting, no sleeping, two-day dance marathon. The mission of THON is to conquer pediatric cancer by providing outstanding emotional and financial support to the children, families, researchers and staff of the Four Diamonds Fund.

During THON weekend, more than 700 dancers and thousands of supporters come together at University Park in the hopes of one day finding a cure for pediatric cancer. Whether as a dancer, entertaining the crowd, taking care of the facility or even sitting in the stands, every person at THON plays a significant role in creating a community unified in support, compassion and understanding. This unity inspires students to fundraise throughout the year and lets families of the Four Diamonds Fund know that they have the care and support they need. This collective effort, involving more than 15,000 students, has become one of Penn State's greatest and most unifying traditions.

Anyone interested in supporting the dancers from Penn State York can donate at http://giveto.psu.edu/THON-York by clicking “Donate Now.” Donations made to the York THON group will be credited to the campus and then added to the final total at University Park.

Checks in support of THON should be made payable to Penn State Dance Marathon or THON, and sent to Penn State York, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., York, PA 17403. Be sure to note "York, Org. 170" in the memo line of the check.


  • York THON Canning Sharks

    Sam Glancey, holding the sign, and Penn State York students, left to right, Jasmine Johnson, Jacinta Bowen and Jake Lauer, donned shark costumes to keep canning interesting during fundraising efforts for THON. Glancey is one of the dancers representing York campus.

    IMAGE: Penn State
  • York THON Canning 2015

    Danielle Olson and Dan Bollinger had plenty of spirit For The Kids during canning weekends in York. Olson is one of the dancers representing York campus at THON.

    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated February 06, 2015