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Helping Hundreds of THON Dancers Get Off on the Right Foot

by on February 20, 2015 5:06 PM

Over the course of THON weekend, the feet of more than 700 dancers will pound against the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center some hundreds of thousands of times.

And that's a lot of wear and tear on a lot of feet.

Byron Forsythe of Rapid Transit Sports says the foot, like any other part of the body, is like part of a machine. It’s an intricate tool that’s part of a larger system, designed to absorb shock and support the weight of an entire body.

When the foot is subjected to something strenuous – like standing for 46 solid hours with no time to sit or rest – there’s a chance for problems. Any serious issues will take more than a single weekend to develop, but Forsythe says that THON dancers may experience knee pain, hip pain and shin splints if they’re not properly prepared.

Thankfully, Forsythe and the rest of the Rapid Transit Sports Team have been working hard to get THON dancers and committee members for their challenging weekend. He estimates they’ve helped roughly 500 THON participants pick the perfect pair of shoes to keep them out of pain for their big 46 hours.

“Rapid Transit Sports has become a very central place for THON,” dancer Bradley Thomson says. “They’ve become the unofficial source for us to get our shoes and other gear for the weekend.” 

THON spokesperson Graceanne Domino says that Rapid Transit Sports – like many local businesses – is a big supporter of THON, donating the numbers the dancers wear and making monetary contributions each year.

But their work to perfectly cushion the feet of so many dancers isn’t any kind of formal agreement – it’s an odd, unofficial relationship that’s grown by word of mouth through the years.

THON dancer Kevin Maloney is used to physical exertion from running a landscaping business during summers back in his hometown near Philadelphia – though he’s not exactly sure how that experience will compare to being on his feet for an entire weekend.

Maloney knew he’d have to pick up a good pair of shoes to keep him going through the weekend. A fellow THON participant told Maloney where to go.

Maloney says he can’t imagine having gone anywhere but RTS. In addition to its large selection of brightly colored THON gear (and their discount for THON participants), Maloney says Rapid Transit Sports staff spent over half an hour with him, paying careful attention to the the precise shape of his foot.

“We’ve never really advertised ourselves as ‘the place to get shoes for THON,’ but the owner has been supporting THON for 30 years and I guess it just got passed down from year to year that if you want to feel good on your feet, you come here,” Forsythe says.

“We’re helping these kids do a good deed, and we’re helping them do something pretty out of the ordinary, so it’s nice to be a part of this,” he says.

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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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