Volume 97 Issue 3 News

Juniata College to host its first Mini-THON event

by Taylor Smallwood

This coming January, Juniata College will hold its first Mini-THON fundraising event to raise awareness of pediatric cancer.

Mini-THON is a subset of the THON fundraiser, which is held annually. Senior Allison Groft, president of the Mini-THON planning committee, said, “THON is a 48-hour dance marathon that’s hosted at Penn State University. They raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, which is the same thing we raise money for through Mini-THON.”

The Four Diamonds Fund assists children who are being treated for pediatric cancer at Penn State Hershey Medical Center through support, care and research. On average, the Four Diamonds Fund gives direct care to 600 children yearly.

Jessica Maxon, interim director of community service and student activities and director of community service and service learning, said, “I’ve always been a big supporter of the Four Diamonds Fund. To me, it’s a great way to bring the community together. It’s a great event that we know sponsors some great kids.”

“It started in 1977, and since then, they’ve raised over $130,000 for Four Diamonds. It’s one of the largest student-run philanthropies in the world,” said Groft.

Penn State students are known for their dedication to THON. “I know the students take a lot of pride in coming together as a university to raise money for children with cancer,” said Haley Schneider ‘15 and Penn State graduate student.

Groft is joined by seniors Sarah Bilheimer and Sarah More, as well as juniors Elise Onjack and Rachel Weigel on the club committee. “We all thought of it together,” Groft said. “We were talking about starting a Mini-THON because we did Mini-THONs in high school, so we wanted to bring it to Juniata.”

The steps taken to introduce Mini-THON to Juniata College involved contacting a Four Diamonds representative in addition to becoming a club on campus.

The Mini-THON group meets weekly to discuss and plan the event, which will be held on Jan. 30, 2016 between 4 and 10 p.m. Groft said about the details of the event, “The theme is space, and our slogan is ‘exploring a new frontier,’ since we are a new club on campus and a new event. At the Mini-THON, we’re going to have lots of dancing, games, prizes and things like that.”

Freshman Amelia Wagner said, “I’m looking forward to participating in this event because it sounds like a really fun time to spend with my friends and get to help the community all at the same time.”

Groft explained that the Mini-THON will be different than Penn State’s THON fundraiser. “It’s going to be much shorter … Most Mini-THONs are anywhere between 12 and 18 hours,” she said. “But we’re only going to be doing 6 hours, and hopefully people are really energetic and are exhausted by the end, because that’s kind of the point.”

Being Juniata’s first Mini-THON, the committee set a goal of $5,000 to go toward the fund. Groft said, “Our goal is to raise awareness for the Four Diamonds because they cover 100 percent of the medical bills for the children that are suffering from cancer, as well as supporting them emotionally along the entire journey of care the child is receiving.”

The event will do more than raise funds. “We really want to open everyone’s eyes to what’s happening out there and to be able to raise money so that these families don’t have to pay anything during the terrible time they’re going through,” said Groft.

Leading up to the main Mini-THON event, the committee has held individual fundraisers. The committee has walked around with change cans at sporting events, placed cans in local businesses and held a 100 days event.

“100 days till Mini-THON is us trying to mimic what Penn State does when they’re 100 days toward the actual THON. So what we’re doing is explaining what Mini-THON is about. We made a trifold poster to show people different facts about the Four Diamonds and to introduce them to it because some people don’t even know what it is,” said Groft.

THON may be an unfamiliar topic to those who are not originally from central Pennsylvania. Wagner, who is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, said, “I hadn’t heard about THON or Mini-THON until I came to Pennsylvania.”

“Students can get involved by either participating in the club to help plan the event or by just coming to the event itself. To come to the event, you have to sign up on Donor Drive and show up the date of the event,” Groft said.

Maxon said, “I think it’s important that students register as soon as they possibly can so they can get started with fundraising and that they get involved because this is such an important project.”

Schneider said, “I can’t wait to see how Juniata students incorporate their own values into the charity. Although the idea comes from Penn State, I think Juniata will put its own twist on it. I know a lot of students at Juniata care deeply about their community, so I believe the fundraiser can be a great success.”

The committee hopes to continue the event every year. “We’re hoping since now we are a club on campus, we’ll be able to continue to reapply to be a club each year. So with that, we want to keep having Mini-THONs each year,” said Groft.

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