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State College Mini-THON Raises $68,405.05 For The Kids

by on May 02, 2015 11:09 AM

Victoria Smith could be seen in her wheelchair as the State College Mini-THON kicked off on Friday night.

She donned the iconic pink fuzzy hat, a symbol synonymous with a Penn State THON organization known as Atlas.

But she was also wearing a yellow captain's shirt, because the seventh grade Mount Nittany Middle School student held a leadership position at this year's Mini-THON. Smith, who was born with cerebral palsy and later battled leukemia, served as a reminder for the hundreds of middle school students dancing to fight pediatric cancer.

"It makes me feel good to do this because I know it’s for these kids," Park Forest Middle School student Ben Krantweiss says. "I love it. It’s a great event and it’s for a great cause, so it’s a win-win situation. It’s important to raise awareness and money so people can have money to help with treatments so they don’t feel pressured financially."

The 2015 State College Mini-THON raised a whopping $68,405.05 this year, topping last year's total, which came in just above $59,000. The event has now raised over a quarter-million dollars in just the past seven years.

From magicians to Penn State basketball players, there was plenty of entertainment on tap for the dancers, who stood for six hours in the fight against pediatric cancer. Alan Wisniewski, a senior forward for the Nittany Lions, attended Mini-THON as the official pianist.

"We always come here for the Mini-THON and it’s always a good time," he says. "Loren Crispell, one of our media guys, reached out and told them I can play piano and here I am."

Wisniewski has seen what the middle school students refer to as "big THON" plenty of times at the Bryce Jordan Center. While the Park Forest Middle School event might be smaller, he sees plenty of similarities. 

"Obviously it’s on a smaller scale, but it’s all for a great cause. These kids are amazing and they raise a huge amount of money," Wisniewski says. "Even if it’s only one night, it’s helping out the same cause and that’s what’s important. To get the community involved is really important to let these kids realize it’s not always about them and they can help out people less fortunate than they are."

Sam Hunsicker will serve as the Hospitality Director at THON 2016, but he got a practice run on Friday night at the middle school. In less than a year, Hunsicker will be in charge of serving meals to hundreds of dancers for 46 hours, but at Mini-THON, he was only asked to spoon some mac and cheese onto the kids' plates.

"I've had some practice now," Hunsicker says. "It’s just amazing to witness this. It’s just really cool for me because when I came to Penn State, I didn’t know much about THON myself. And now, just to see it here in a middle school and to see these kids coming out for the same cause is just crazy."

As they say at the conclusion of the Mini-THON's namesake at the Bryce Jordan Center, the end of one dance marathon marks the start of another year of fundraising in the fight against pediatric cancer. 

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Zach Berger is the managing editor of StateCollege.com. He graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with a degree in print journalism. Zach enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from football to government, music, and everything in between.
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