One student's story: 'Why I Am Dancing in THON 2019'

Tara Jacobs
February 11, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At THON 2018, Tara Jacobs cheered on her fellow nursing students from the sidelines. This year, she's dancing "For The Kids" — and for her late father.

"Ever since my freshman year, I have truly wanted to dance in THON," said Jacobs, now a senior. "I served on a committee both freshman and sophomore years, as well as being involved in the Student Nurses' Association of Pennsylvania at Penn State (SNAPS) THON efforts, so I got to see what it was all about.

"My junior year, we received a new THON family, the Steigelmans. I was lucky to be doing my clinical experience at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center at this time, so I was able to visit Lucas when he was receiving treatment or came in with a fever. I became very close with them and welcomed the chance to be a positive distraction for Lucas. I spent a clinical rotation on the pediatrics oncology floor, where I was able to help even more Four Diamonds kids and families."

A Chalfont, Pennsylvania native, Jacobs said getting involved in THON represents for her a truly personal commitment to the fight against cancer.

"My dad always supported my efforts in THON, exclaiming how proud he was that I took part in something so much bigger than myself," she said. "In February 2018 — the week after THON took place — he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Suddenly, my entire world was taken over by that one word: cancer. I truly understood how a diagnosis impacts a family and I finally could grasp what Luke and his family have been going through. In July, after a courageous and hard fight, my dad lost his battle with AML.

Robert and Tara Jacobs

Tara with her father, Robert, who passed away in 2018 after battling cancer.

IMAGE: Tara Jacobs

"This year's THON is extra special for me because I lost my dad — my rock and support — to this horrible disease. Though I feel the pain each and every day, I know he wants me to keep fighting for a cure so no one else has to experience a loss like this.

"I THON for all the kids — especially Luke, as this year will be his first THON. I am so humbled to have been chosen to dance for SNAPS this year and to make my dad and the Steigelmans proud. For The Kids, For The Cure!"

Last Updated March 20, 2019