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Another Surprise Performance and Kids Shine on THON Saturday

by on February 16, 2019 9:43 PM

"THON changes lives."

Those were the words of Penn State Alumni Association CEO Paul Clifford as he took the stage on Saturday at THON 2019. And those words proved true in the faces of Four Diamonds children who battle pediatric cancer, in their families who are supported by THON and Four Diamonds, and in the dancers and volunteers of THON as their year-round efforts culminated with the 46-hour Dance Marathon, which was in full swing Saturday afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.

It was another day of fun and entertainment — and another day with a surprise musical guest. After Andy Grammer's opening night set on Friday, THON welcomed another unexpected performance when 12-year-old country star Mason Ramsey took the stage just after 5 p.m.

Twelve-year-old country star Mason Ramsey made a surprise appearance on Saturday at THON 2019. Photo by Geoff Rushton/ 

Ramsey, who rose to fame with a viral video of him yodeling "Lovesick Blues" in a Walmart," came out to thunderous applause after word leaked he would be performing. He played a well-received set of original songs and covers of the likes of Johnny Cash and Hank Williams.


The young star wasn't the only surprise of the day.

There was also speed painter Cody Sabol. Making his first appearance at THON, Sabol took only a matter of minutes to create portraits of Saquon Barkley and the Nittany Lion Shrine on the THON stage before a crowd that watched in rapt attention.

Speed painter Cody Sabol took the THON stage on Saturday afternoon and in a matter of minutes completed portraits of Saquon Barkley and the Nittany Lion Shrine. Photo by Geoff Rushton/

But as throughout the weekend, it was the kids and their families that were the stars of the day, highlighted by the annual Kids Talent Show.

Four Diamonds child Caleb Deckman played drums while his father, Michael, played guitar on songs including such as Sweet Caroline and Living on a Prayer.

Calliope Silbaugh played piano and told jokes during the Kids Talent Show at THON 2019. Photo by Geoff Rushton/ 

Kids were also treated to time with princesses on the Jordan Center floor.

Photo by Geoff Rushton/ 

State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff spoke on Saturday morning and explained how he knows first-hand the impact THON has. He was a Four Diamonds family member and spoke about his daughter Ryleigh, who passed away in 2010 after battling cancer.

And he knows plenty of families whose lives were changed by THON.

“I have seen families who traveled 100 miles after working the 11-7 shift at their job to be with their child,” he said. “I can’t wait to stand on the House floor and brag, proudly brag, about this year’s total.”

State Rep. Kerry Benninghoff, R-Bellefonte, spoke as a former THON family member and losing his daughter Ryleigh to cancer in 2010. Photo by Mikey Mandarino/Onward State

Check out the gallery below for more photos from THON 2019.

Photo Gallery - THON 2019 Saturday

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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