Kinesiology student cycles 120 miles for THON

Marjorie S. Miller
November 13, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – At midnight, Michael Healy strapped on his helmet and hopped on his bike. It was cold and dark, but he had a mission.

The senior kinesiology major at Penn State then began a 12-hour journey, riding from Hershey to University Park, to raise money for THON, the student-run philanthropy committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer.

Healy cycled approximately 120 miles on Nov. 7 from Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to the HUB-Robeson Center at Penn State’s University Park campus, arriving a little after noon. Healy timed his arrival to coincide with 100 Days Til THON, a day-long celebration in advance of THON next February, consisting of fundraisers and awareness events.

“Mike! Mike! Mike!” chanted a crowd of people on both sides of Pollock Road outside the HUB as he rode in. Healy smiled and waved from his bike, dismounted, and then took time to greet all of his supporters.

He hopes the money he raises from his ride will allow him to dance in THON, the 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon each February to celebrate cancer survivors and remember those who have died.

Healy said he was overwhelmed by the support of everyone who showed up to see him finish his ride, including his classmates, THON friends, and faculty members from the College of Health and Human Development.

“I think the bike ride and the cause the bike ride stands for is truly exemplary of what our college stands for too. We are working to improve and promote the importance of healthy living, development and care for our community, especially those who battle pediatric cancer,” Healy said. “I want to help get the word out that anyone who truly has a passion can use that strength and talent to do good for others. This is what cycling has allowed me to do.”

Laura Dimenichi, a senior majoring in animal sciences, was part of the cheering crowd. She said Healy has always been a positive person, eager to help others.

“It’s very motivating seeing him do this ride,” she said. “I really admire his perseverance to do this. It will help a lot of people.” 

The day before Healy set off on his 120-mile trek, he and his best friend Previn Joseph, who drove him to Hershey, met with nurses and staff, and received a tour of the pediatric cancer research labs, at Penn State Children's Hospital. 


Michael Healy, a senior kinesiology student who cycled 120 miles to raise money for THON, began his trip at Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey, where he met with nurses and staff, and received  a tour of the pediatric cancer research labs. 

IMAGE: Michael Healy

Healy said it was really special to receive a tour and meet the staff because he truly got to see where all his donations were going, and how his ride would impact the Four Diamonds community. 

“Everyone at the hospital was so welcoming and excited to see us,” Healy said. “It was rewarding to see how my ride could benefit families treated there.”

The Four Diamonds fund at Penn State Children’s Hospital is THON’s beneficiary. Since 1977, THON has raised over $157 million for the Four Diamonds fund, providing comprehensive care for 4,000 families and funding research. 

In addition to driving Healy to Hershey, Joseph, a senior majoring in information sciences and technology, checked to make sure Healy’s water and food supply was stocked during the final home stretch of the ride, and was there to offer support as needed. 

“Mike and I have known each other since kindergarten,” Joseph said. “Mike is using his talents and skills to do something important. This bike ride is making a difference. If there’s anything Mike has taught me, it’s to use your passions for good.”

Over the past four years, Healy has organized four charity bike rides, including this one, for both THON and the American Diabetes Association.

“I have been a cyclist all my life and I have always been looking for ways to give back to others through my passion for exercising,” Healy said. “This is why I choose to ride for THON.”

For more information about Healy’s ride and THON, click here

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 19, 2018