Penn State Student-Athlete Advisory Board raises nearly $60,000 for THON

February 20, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —  Penn State Athletics and its student-athletes were heavily involved with the 45th Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) at the Bryce Jordan Center this past weekend, helping raise more than $10 million in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Four student-athletes represented Penn State's Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) and were among the hundreds of Nittany Lion student-athletes who volunteered or participated in THON activities. SAAB raised $59,679.49 for THON, which ranked No. 5 among THON’s 400-plus general organizations, and easily surpassed SAAB’s goal of raising $50,000.

A total of $10,045,478.44 was raised by THON’s 703 dancers and 16,000-plus student volunteers.

The $59,679.49 figure is SAAB’s second-largest THON total, trailing only THON 2010 when SAAB raised $64,116.17. Since 2000, SAAB has raised more than $680,000 for THON, the Four Diamonds Fund and pediatric cancer patients.

“Our student-athletes got very creative this year in their fundraising efforts,” said Liz Johnson, director of Student-Athlete Welfare and Development. “Canning opportunities are much different than they were in 2010. The efforts of SAAB THON Chair Angela Widlacki (women’s soccer, 2016 THON dancer), Vice Chair Charlie Shuman (football, 2017 THON dancer) and SAAB Treasurer Casey Francis (women’s swimming and diving) were critical. They have been planning events and organizing their fellow student-athletes since last summer and set the group up for the outstanding success they had this year.”

The four SAAB dancers were:

  • Carly Celkos (field hockey, senior, Berlin, New Jersey)
  • Jessica O’Neill-Lyublinsky (women’s fencing, senior; North Salem, New York)
  • Megan Schafer (women’s soccer, junior; Langhorne, Pennsylvania)
  • Charlie Shuman (football, junior; Pittsford, New York)

Jessi Purawic and Carly Waters from the women’s rugby team danced in THON, representing Penn State rugby. Also dancing in THON were Holly Johnson, Kelli Long and Alex Preziosi from Penn State cheerleading, and Jacqueline Ferre, Alexa Gumbati and Veronica Rossi from the Lionettes dance team.

Coverage of Penn State Athletics and SAAB from throughout THON can be found at

Along with the dancers and several committee members, numerous other student-athletes attend THON and participate in Student-Athlete Hour and a THON favorite, the Pep Rally. A record 18 teams danced in the Pep Rally, which is one of the highlight events during THON. The men’s gymnastics team was selected the Pep Rally winner. A number of Penn State teams also hosted families as part of the THON 2017 Explorers Program.

In addition to generating financial support for THON, SAAB also provides emotional support to its THON children, Isabella Messina and Colton Buckley, and their families throughout the year.

Since 1977, THON has partnered with the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering childhood cancer. To date, more than $146 million has been raised by THON, and at least 95 percent of the funds raised at THON are donated directly to Four Diamonds.

For more information about THON 2017, visit

Last Updated February 20, 2017