Jay Paterno at THON: 'Don't You Ever Back Down From the Name Penn State'
By Ryan Beckler
Fresh off a week-long media tour defending the recently released Paterno Report, Jay Paterno dropped by the Bryce Jordan Center and delivered a powerful speech to this year’s 710 dancers who have been sleepless since Friday afternoon.
Paterno walked out onto center stage with with THON 2013 overall chair Will Martin and brought along a mug that was left at his father’s statue last year. The mug was signed by a group of students, including Martin.
As a sign of his appreciation, he gave Martin one of his father’s ties.
“I know the statue’s gone, but this is a memory that I have forever because of Will, because of THON, because of what you guys do,” said Jay Paterno, who is a regular contributor to StateCollege.com.
Jay mentioned that while his mother, Sue, couldn’t make it to THON this weekend, the entire Paterno family is very proud for the time and work the Penn State student body has put in this year.
“[Sue] wants you all to know she is with you in heart and spirit, as is my father," Jay Paterno said. "I want to know, he’s looking down, and he is so proud at what all of you have done and what all of you will do this weekend."
Then, Jay, while fighting back tears, offered some of the most poignant words of the weekend thus far.
“This weekend … This weekend is the greatest event that happens on any college campus anywhere in the world," he said. "And without that, all of you Penn State students, alumni, you know you’ll hear what we’ve had to deal with from people at other schools. But I can tell you, don’t you ever, ever back down from the name Penn State. Don’t you ever back down.
"Penn State is the students, it’s the pride, it’s what you do for others. That’s what makes us unique. That’s what separates us from every other school in America.”
After a rousing round of applause, Jay hinted that he thinks a THON 2013 total of $11 million is well within reach.
“Now I have no inside information, but I just know Penn Staters," he said. "You put a challenge in front of us, we don’t knock at the door. We kick it in.”
The crowd, nearly silent by this point, eagerly listened to Jay Paterno’s concluding remarks — and they did not disappoint.
“All of you that are involved in THON will leave college knowing that you have inspired tomorrow’s miracles and you have saved lives," he said. "How many people can leave college, look in the mirror and say, ‘I’ve saved a life?’
"Nothing can erase the history you will make here this weekend. Nothing with erase the history that’s in your hearts and in our hearts. The smiles you will have this weekend, the tears, the laughter, and yes, the pain, nothing will ever erase that.
“Your summit is at hand. Dance for those who have been saved, dance for those who will be saved, and also remember those who were not saved. Their lives, their stories compel you to dance to the summit of Everest. And when you’ve made it, you will know what you’ve done. You will know what you’ve accomplished. And you can yell with a voice that will echo across the generations. We did it for the kids.”