DUBOIS – The Penn State DuBois THON Committee once again set a new record for dollars raised for the country’s largest student-run philanthropy event.
With months of fundraising culminating in Thursday’s Hair Auction and Dancer Send-Off event, the campus has raised more than $24,000 for THON. That shatters the previous campus record of $22,274, set just last year.
The annual THON Hair Auction, held in the Student Union, alone netted approximately $11,000 on Thursday. Students, faculty and staff members cast bids on each of the brave people who volunteered to have their hair cut for the cause.
Those who stepped up for the hair auction this year are students, Amber Metzger, who raised $2,550; Jacqui Hetzler, who raised $1,800; Juli Vokes, who raised $2,000; THON Committee Chair Greg Myers, who raised $1,025; and Professor of English Tony Vallone, who raised $660. Additional proceeds were brought in through a silent auction and separate donations.
Each year THON challenges dancers to stay on their feet for 46 hours to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund. The event’s sole beneficiary and a leader in the fight against pediatric cancer, the Four Diamonds Fund fills in the funding gaps that insurance leaves for the patients it serves, enabling families to focus on caring for their child.
Because of large donors like THON, Penn State Hershey Hospital recruits world-class talent to continue innovative research, and to maintain and expand the state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital.
Students who volunteer with THON have various reasons for taking interest in the cause. For some like Amber Metzger, it is deeply personal and pursued with true passion. Metzger shaved her head at the hair auction. And her story leaves no question as to where her passion comes from.
“Many years ago, my brother, Brian, lost his battle to cancer. That was something that changed my family forever. Coming from a poor family, none of us ever believed there was anything we could do to help other children like my brother. That is until my sister, Jessica discovered THON through Penn State. In 2014, she was chosen to be one of the two dancers for the DuBois campus. That was both of our first experiences at THON. That was something that changed my family forever. Suddenly, a door had been opened to us; there was something we could do to help other children like Brian and THON was that something. Every year, whether I have been able to make it or not, I have looked forward to THON, looked forward to this great opportunity to make sick children smile,” Metzger said.
Metzger helped the campus THON team pull ahead from behind this year. She recalls, “This year, the DuBois THON team was behind on their goal and everyone was feeling disheartened. Of course, with my personal tie to THON, I didn’t want to see it struggle.
“So, when I heard about the hair auction, I signed up to shave my head. I asked the community to donate $2,000 for the cause and I would gladly shave my head. At first I was concerned that we would not be able to raise the full $2,000, but in the end, I was immensely impressed with my community members.
“We were able to pull together $2,550! I’m so proud of everyone who helped. So, with pride, I sat on a stool and let the wonderful ladies from The Beauty Bar shave off six inches of hair. It doesn’t sound like much, but six inches was all I had. And I would do it again.
“Now I have the pleasure of walking around with a statement on my head to remind the world of all the children who suffer from cancer and to show them that something can be done. Something can be done for children like my brother, Brian.
“Or like the our THON child, Joey, who will be graduating high school this year thanks to THON. It is also a reminder to women to challenge the American standards of beauty and that it is OK to express who you are and what you stand for.”
Assistant Director of Student Affairs Marly Doty is advisor to the THON Committee at DuBois. She said, “These students never cease to amaze me. They continue to find ways to raise more money for The Four Diamonds Fund. If you need hope, look at these young people doing incredible things. This effort takes many and we are grateful for all our supporters this year.”
THON began in 1973, when dancers raised just more than $2,000. Today, it is the largest student-run philanthropy effort in the nation, raising $9,770,332 last year. THON 2017 runs until Sunday at the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park. Representing Penn State DuBois at the event are campus dancers Jake Coalmer, Chanice Britten and Jacob Skubisz.