How to get involved with the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group

January 11, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Having danced in the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon twice as a student, 2006 alumnus Matt Huber wanted to continue to stay involved after graduating. 

“There are so many great things about Penn State. I think, for me, my THON experience was one of the most important things I experienced in college,” Huber said. “It was important to me then and it’s still important to me now.”

In 2006, Huber got involved with an event called the Hope Express, a relay race from Hershey to State College that took place the night before THON officially kicked off.

The event saw runners start in Hershey and run all the way to State College, all the while carrying letters of support for THON dancers written by patients at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Through the Hope Express experience, Huber landed on the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group’s (DMAIG) board of directors. Huber’s leadership in that role paved the way for Huber to become the DMAIG’s president, a role he holds today.

The Dance Marathon AIG got its start in 1984 as the Silver Shoes Committee, which saw a small group of alumni petition for a THON alumni group. The idea behind the group’s formation was to focus on getting alumni back together to relive their THON moments. They didn’t want to let go of that THON connection once they saw their time in Happy Valley come to an end.

“Its main mission was to keep alumni connected to THON, and it still is,” Huber said. “Back in the pre-internet days, they would send out newsletters and cards, things like that. Just keep alumni interested in THON. Now, with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, it’s a bit easier for alumni to stay connected to THON. So we’ve kind of looked to branch out a bit and do more to help the cause.”  

Each year, the DMAIG typically has four dancers (two couples) that dance in THON, and also puts together an event called Hope From Coast To Coast, which replaced the Hope Express as the group’s marquee event. 

Hope From Coast To Coast is a virtual run that will take place the week leading up to THON 2019 (Feb. 10-17).   

“We wanted to do something that would engage that segment of the large running/fundraising community that was involved with THON,” Huber said. “People can organize runs in their area and run together in support of THON. That will happen, most of it will occur, in the lead up to THON. We’ve already rolled out where people can sign up and start their fundraising efforts and training.”

Recently, the DMAIG rolled out an ambassador program aimed at finding alumni in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, who have a strong connection to THON and who also want to get others involved. 

“We understand that some people are interested, and they want news and updates, and contribute just by donation,” Huber said. “Other people want to be a little more active and involved. So we’re rolling out a program in areas that have a higher concentration of alumni who want to be involved or have been involved. We want to try and facilitate other leaders and organizers to try to start events. Like 5Ks, happy hours and things like that.”

The DMAIG is open to all newcomers, even those who haven’t participated in THON in any capacity before. 

“I think when you kind of see the impact that we make and the progress made toward a cure, it’s motivating,” Huber said. “There’s still a way to go, obviously. There are far too many kids’ stories that end the way we don’t want them to yet. But that’s the motivating factor for sure. It’s special to be a part of this.” 

For more information on the Dance Marathon AIG, visit https://www.dmaig.org

Also, be sure to check out the Penn State Alumni Association’s THON 2019 Facebook event page by visiting https://www.facebook.com/events/994138624112094/.  

Last Updated January 11, 2019