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Cancer Survivor Returns to Bryce Jordan Center Floor as THON Dancer

by on February 17, 2018 2:21 PM

Among the dancers at THON this weekend, Thalia Splawn brings a different perspective to the Bryce Jordan Center floor.

Just before her fourth birthday Splawn was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and at age six she made her first journey to Happy Valley for THON weekend. At age nine Splawn was in remission, and in 2011 she was declared cancer free.

Now 20 years old and a junior in college, Splawn is stepping onto the floor with a new perspective, as one of three dancers for the Penn State York campus.

The Penn State York dancers are selected based on the number of spirit points an individual has earned since September and an evaluation of their speeches. Splawn, who had such a personal connection to THON, gave an emotional speech that she felt secured her dancer spot.

However, it wasn’t until weeks later that the dancers were announced and Spawn learned that she had secured her spot in THON 2018 history.

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“The THON dancers were announced at our Christmas party,” Splawn said. “I was thrilled.”

Splawn wasn’t always convinced she wanted to dance. Even though she came to THON weekend as child, she hardly remembers stepping inside the BJC.

“As a kid, I mostly just remember having fun with my cousins. We would just run around and have a good time,” she said.

The first THON visit Splawn really remembers was at the age of 17, when she was paired with the special interest organization Boulevard. It was during this visit that Spawn realized she had the dream to someday become a dancer, and three years later it would come true.

As a college student, she is still having just as much fun. Like many other THON spectators, Splawn is looking forward to the pep rally and the Final Four.

For Splawn, the attention THON brings to pediatric cancer is crucial. It’s something she is proud to tell her friends about and proud to be a part of.

“I’m just really grateful to be here, ” Splawn said. “I really see all the effort everyone puts into the weekend, before and during.”

Caitlin Gailey writes for Onward State. The Penn State freshman is a native of suburban Philadelphia and says she bleeds blue and white.
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