Daphnie Vega Photo by Ryan Aten. Gabiela Herrera, Megan McGee, Mike Bailey and Leeann Tudaro.
It seems like everyone who was involved in THON weekend has the same one word response when asked to describe the weekend, “amazing.” THON dancers Leeann Tufaro, Megan McGee, Gabiela Herrera, and Mike Bailey all danced for 46 hours during THON weekend representing the small but big hearted campus of Hazleton.
Tufaro, along with her three fellow Hazlethon members, loved having a chance to interact with the children at THON for the chance to raise enough money to find a cure for pediatric cancer.
Audrianna Bartol lost her battle with cancer just hours before the start of THON. But she and the other fallen angels drove other Penn Staters to get to the stands of the Bryce Jordan Center and dance FTK, (for the kids.) McGee, 22, dedicated her weekend to Audrianna.
“Audrianna, one of our pen pals, was my biggest motivation. She suffered so much, so THON weekend was my turn to suffer,” McGee said.
On the bright side of things, Bailey described his favorite mo- ment of the weekend was when it was almost over.
“The end was the best. Not only was the band Go Go Gadget amazing, but to see the total earnings wowed me,” Bailey said.
THON raised $12,374,034.46.
“It was completely worth it!” Tufaro said.
Many say the first time at THON is the toughest but Tufaro wouldn’t take anything back.
“I went into THON knowing exactly why I was there, FTK; that was my motivation along with my nephew. He’s 2 years-old and that’s usually the age that most children are diagnosed with certain types of cancer. And my moraler kept me going and active; she was amazing!” Tufaro said.
A moraler is a THON dancer’s ultimate support system. This is a person who the dancer can rely on during THON weekend and help them if any problems arise.
So is the experience any different when on the stands rather than on the dance floor? Yokasta Lara, a sophomore, said she looks up to all the THON dancers who were there.
“Every time I saw my good friend Gaby Herrera, I would jump up to get her energy pumping,” Lara said. “My motivation for dancing may be a little different than the dancers on the dance floor, I danced of course FTK, but I danced to energize the dancers and to keep them motivated because they are the ones who motivate the Penn State Hershey Medical Center families to never give up the fight.”
Thinking about being a THON dancer next year? Listen to the THON professionals like Herrera.
“If I could change one thing about the weekend I would change nothing, but if I could change something about my preparation for THON, I would have exercised more to prevent the pain in my legs and feet.”
So get in shape because who knows, maybe you’ll be dancing on behalf of Penn State Hazleton for THON 2014.