New Kensington THON co-chairs fund raise, prepare volunteers for Dance Marathon

William A. Woodard Jr.
February 03, 2016

UPPER BURRELL, Pa. -- After five months of raising funds, Penn State New Kensington THON co-chairs Shannon Josefoski and Shawna Fluhme are raising spirits. The two business majors are making final preparations for campus dancers and supporters of Penn State’s annual Dance Marathon.

Formally known as Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, THON is a 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping marathon from Feb. 19-21, on the University Park campus. THON benefits the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital's Four Diamonds Fund, whose goal is to fight childhood cancer.

Since the fall semester, Josefoski and Fluhme supervised a cadre of volunteers who planned fundraising activities for what is believed to be the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. In two weeks, their efforts will come to fruition at the Bryce Jordan Center. Dancers from Penn State and children from the hospital will meet on the dance floor while supporters from the campuses and families of the children cheer them on from the stands.

“After all the hard work throughout the year, I’ll get to see the smiles on all the kids’ faces,” said Josefoski, who attended last year’s Dance Marathon as a THON committee volunteer. “Anything we raise is going to make a difference for the kids.”

Shannon Josefoski
A junior business marketing major from Natrona Heights, Josefoski connected with THON when she wanted to get involved with campus groups. Extracurricular activities have been a part of her academic make-up since she attended Highlands High School, where she participated in numerous sports and clubs.

The campus’ annual “Back to School Bash," an outdoor festival during the first week of the semester, provided the opportunity to continue the tradition. Also known as Club Rush, the bash is used by campus organizations to staff booths and recruit new members.

“As I went around all the tables, THON just jumped out at me,” said Josefoski, who expects to graduate in 2017. “It might have been the free ice cream they served, but I knew it was something I wanted to do. Who wouldn’t want to raise funds for kids with cancer?"

A transfer from Slippery Rock University, Josefoski is involved in a variety of campus activities, and she holds numerous leadership positions. She serves as an orientation leader, holds a seat on the Campus Activity Board, and is a member of the cheerleading team. In addition, she attended Leader Launch and the Summer Leadership Conference. A professional conference for student leaders, Leader Launch is a Penn State initiative that provides a professional conference for students seeking jobs and internships. The conference is designed to enhance their knowledge of transferable skills, networking and professionalism. During the four-day Student Summer Leadership conference, Josefoski learned about meeting management, student activism, diversity, community building, and personal and professional goal setting.

Although her leadership training groomed her for the role of THON co-chair, she also learned a lot from Jadyn Perry and Lea Long, last year’s co-chairs. Under Perry and Long, the campus raised $28,000, fourth best in campus history. Josefoski took advantage of the opportunity to help Perry and Long improve the THON effort.

“I think that my experiences can bring some new life into the THON organization on our campus,” Josefoski said. “I want to be a part of anything I can do to help our campus so that we can make the community’s and other people’s lives better."

Despite her busy academic and campus activities schedule, Josefoski finds time to work two jobs -- desk assistant at Sylvan Pools in Natrona Heights and desk assistant in the campus Athletics Center.

Shawna Fluhme
The bash also served as the conduit for Fluhme, a junior business management major from Plum, who has been involved with THON since her first semester at the campus.

“THON caught my attention during Club Rush,” said Fluhme, a product of Plum High School. “After the first THON weekend I attended, I was in love with the organization.”

Last year, Fluhme served as a team captain for the campus committee and moraler for THON weekend. Team captains organize local fundraising events, such as basket bingo and spaghetti dinners. Moralers are assigned to each dancer and attend to their needs during the marathon. Be it food, drink or inspiration, the moraler's responsibility is to help the dancers get through the event. Fluhme’s dedication to the cause and her leadership acumen gave rise to a call to assume a bigger role in THON.

“I was asked to sit in as chair, and I was honored to take on the responsibility and to move up in the organization,” Fluhme said.

Fluhme’s favorite fundraiser was basket bingo because “it was our most successful and it was fun to decorate.” When she is not fundraising, Fluhme works as a hostess and server at Burgatory in Monroeville.

For information about THON at the campus, contact Lauren Blum at ldb14@psu.edu

Dancers announced
The New Kensington campus was allotted two dancers for THON weekend. Wati Kumwenda, a sophomore biomedical engineering technology major from Republic of Malawi in southeast Africa, and Ben Lesko, a senior information sciences and technology major from New Kensington, will stand for the campus during THON weekend.

The number of dancers going to University Park from each campus is based on the amount of money raised by the campus the previous year. The dancers were chosen by an eight-member interview committee comprised of students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni. The selections were based on participation in campus THON activities and raising at least $1,000 apiece through canning, spaghetti dinners, bingo bashes and other events.

“Our dancers were chosen because they were the most qualified to represent our organization,” Fluhme said. “They are both involved on campus and will not disappoint.”

About THON
THON is believed to be the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. The Four Diamonds Fund benefits pediatric cancer patients, families and researchers, who are working to find better treatments and, ultimately, cures for forms of cancer that afflict children.

Cancer is the number one disease killer of children in the United States. It kills more people than asthma, cystic fibrosis, diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. Cancer can affect anyone, regardless of ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region. Although 75 percent of the children with cancer can be cured, certain forms of childhood cancer have proven to be so resistant to treatment that a cure is still elusive, and 2,300 children and teens will die from cancer this year. THON's mission is to one day find a cure for all childhood cancer.

Four Diamonds picks up where insurance leaves off, enabling families to solely focus on care for their child. Assistance from Four Diamonds ensures counselors, social workers, music therapists and other specialists are available to provide comprehensive care in a family-focused atmosphere. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $127 million for Four Diamonds.

For more information about THON or to make a donation, visit www.thon.org.

  • THON Committee

    Members of the Penn State New Kensington THON committee receive updates from THON co-chairs at the group's weekly meeting. 

    IMAGE: Bill Woodard

(Media Contacts)

Bill Woodard

Work Phone: 
724-334-6049
Home Phone: 
724-335-0473
Cell Phone: 
724-594-8421
Last Updated February 04, 2016