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Defining Moment: How THON changed my life

22 Feb

Everyone has a defining moment in their life.  My definition of a “defining moment” is a life changing event that teaches you a lesson about your character.  It’s different for everyone: a birth, a death, a revelation, a change.  Sometimes its importance may be difficult to recognize at the time; it may even take years to identify its impact on your life.  No matter how long it takes, once you recognize a defining moment in your life, you are forever changed.

My defining moment was an experience that lasted exactly 46 hours.  For those of you familiar with THON, I was a dancer in THON 2010.  For those who are not, THON is another name for the Penn State Dance Marathon.  It is a 46 hour no-sitting/no-sleeping dance marathon to support families affected by pediatric cancer through the Four Diamonds fund.  Only approximately 700 people each year get the privilege of spending those 46 hours on their feet but 15,000+ students volunteer their time to make the weekend possible.  Best of all, this past weekend, THON raised over $10.68M to fight pediatric cancer.

THON is an amazing philanthropy that helps hundreds of families affected by pediatric cancer.  I recommend that everyone visits THON.org right now to learn more about the wonderful ways the charity serves others.  I would also encourage everyone to donate online as well.  I can guarantee that your donation will work miracles for families who have been living in a nightmare.

Typically when you think about a charity, you think about how it benefits the people it serves.  One thought I would like to point out is that people forget to consider the impact the charity has on the volunteers as well.  Participating in THON has changed my life in ways I cannot even explain.  The biggest take-away for me has been the realization that I am a strong person who will fight through a physical, mental, and emotional challenge.

Standing for 46-hours without sleep or coffee to support children with cancer is something that has defined who I am as a person.  The memory of those 46 hours will always be a part of me.  When I am faced with a challenge, I always think back to THON.  Even when the pain was difficult to bare at the time, I made the choice to continue to dance without complaint.  It was by no means easy but it was worth it.

My THON 2010 Journey

Click the link above to watch the video I made to tell the story of THON 2010 (it’s definitely not a work of art by any means but I still love it!).

My THON family

“Building my brand” is about defining who I am and making sure the world sees me as the best possible version of myself.  Because of my experience at THON, I am confident that I can use the following two words to define my brand:

Dedicated & Strong