THON suspends Oct. 23-25 canning weekend to review safety protocols

October 05, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Oct. 23-25 THON canning weekend has been suspended, the student organization announced Monday (Oct. 5). In lieu of the fundraising event, THON will undergo an evaluation of canning and additional safety precautions for student volunteers.

In a “Letter to the THON Community,” THON executive director Katie Mailey said the organization will conduct a thorough review of policies, procedures and programs related to canning and THON’s fundraising model. The announcement comes after a Penn State student died in a car accident on Sept. 27 while returning from a trip to solicit donations for THON.

“There is no doubt that this has been an extremely difficult week for many in our THON and Penn State communities after the loss of Tally Sepot. Our hearts continue to be with Tally’s family and friends during this heartbreaking time,” Mailey said. “This past week, we have received multiple emails and calls from community members concerned with volunteer safety. … [The suspension] is to ensure that the safety and welfare of our volunteers remains the top priority of our organization, while allowing for an opportunity to evaluate our policies and procedures before the third Fundraising Outreach & Canning Weekend, scheduled for November 13-15.”

The decision to suspend the canning weekend is effective for all campuses, whether or not students require travel for canister solicitation.

"THON's leadership has openly shared its thinking with us in response to Tally's tragic loss," said Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims, who along with Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Rod Kirsch is the primary liaison to THON. "We are fully apprised of the group's rationale for this action, as well as its intention to consider additional safety questions more deeply through the coming weeks. We could not be more supportive of the careful deliberation in which the group is engaged, and we will continue to do all we reasonably can to encourage the best possible outcome as these discussions proceed."

The Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, referred to as THON, is a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. Several weekends a year are designated as “canning” weekends, where students solicit donations in communities across the region. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $127 million for families of pediatric cancer patients and research toward finding a cure.

Over the past few years, THON has implemented a number of policies and practices aimed at improving the safety for volunteers while fundraising. Students are trained through a mandatory course on the THON e-Learning Management System, an online module-based education tool, in areas such as safe fundraising practices, donor interaction and travel safety.

Last Updated October 05, 2015