46 Hours. No Sleeping. No Sitting. Dance Marathon.
It was finally there, right in front of me. The moment we anticipated all year. My captain called all of us who had never experienced THON before to the front of the line as we geared up to enter the magic of the Bryce Jordan Center floor for the first time that weekend. Chills overtook my body as my wide blue eyes captured the vibrant lights flashing colors of the rainbow. Eager dancers stretched all around the floor as they waited for the count down to Stand up to Cancer. I searched nearly the whole BJC floor looking for my dancer, John (crazy right? coincidence? I think not.. I know John is always with me). Trying not to step on dancers, mean while soaking in every square inch of the energetic BJC, I continued to search finally discovering him in the far corner. Excited, nervous and emotional the countdown began and we all stood up and embraced the anticipation of what was soon to be life changing.
Each shift I entered the floor, I had a completely unique experience from the preceding one. Playing with THON children, water gun fights, blowing bubbles, dancing like no one is watching, no one was a stranger, we were all one. For the first time since I’ve been at Penn State, I was in a room with thousands of people, strangers at one point, but in the magic of the BJC, we were all friends. For the first time since I’ve been here, I was not lonely in a crowded room. I felt alive.
The energy is that of which I could never explain. For once, the sick kids weren’t “the sick kids” they were the superheroes, the lion cubs, the princesses, the best friends, and our inspiration. Today we spark tomorrow’s light, as we ignite the hope within each and everyone of our souls, and spark the light for every hero, cub, princess, and friend.
My favorite part? An overwhelming amount of tears poured out of my eyes during the “Where Are They Now Stories” exclaiming the success stories of all of our valiant battlers. I couldn’t help but wonder, where would my John be? What sports would he be playing? But trying not to think of the what if’s I was so proud that THON was able to give these children the rest of their lives. Following that was the Angel hour, honoring all of those heroes who are now flying high. Getting chills as I type these words, I recall watching the entire BJC support one another arms around each other, swaying back and forth as we commemorated every angel. Again, flashes of my heroes, John, Nana, Chris and McVeigh, flashed through my head for they were what brought me to THON.
But the tears were not my favorite part. The tears, much like a rain storm, brought a rainbow. After Angel Hour commenced, the entire BJC sang two beautiful songs together: Angels Above Us and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. My favorite part was singing these songs with a shaky voice, sniffles, red puffy eyes, with 15,261 of my closest friends, joined by millions watching through a live feed. To be a part of something so infectious, something so good, and to watch these strangers come together and sing comfort to each other was so exquisitely beautiful. I cannot wait for next years THON already where I hope to have lead as a captain and be dancing for all 46. Until next year, THON, thank you.