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THON 2018 Gets Under Way at Bryce Jordan Center

by on February 17, 2018 12:05 AM

More than 700 dancers along with thousands of volunteers, supporters and Four Diamonds Families have packed the Bryce Jordan Center with the goal of helping every child toward "Discovering Tomorrow's Wonders."

The 46 hours of THON kicked off at 6 p.m. on Friday, the culmination of year-round fundraising by Penn State students to support the Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Medical Center and its efforts to fight pediatric cancer. THON is the major driver Four Diamonds ability to provide financial support for pediatric cancer patients and their families, as well as supporting specialized practitioners devoted to pediatric cancer patients and cancer research.

Penn State Berkey Creamery started things off with the announcement of its first new flavor in a year, Gold Ribbon Ripple, in honor of THON. A portion of the proceeds from its sales will go to THON.

After dancers, and everyone else in the crowd of thousands, got their first lesson in this year's line dance, indie pop band Misterwives made a surprise appearance as the opening act, providing an energetic start to the dance marathon.

James Franklin took the stage to address the crowd, and early on some other notable Penn Staters -- Sue Paterno and Penn State basketball big man Mike Watkins -- were walking the floor giving support to dancers and families.

Some Four Diamonds families were making the latest of many returns to THON, like Jennifer Kern, who traveled from Harrisburg with her family. Kern became a Four Diamonds child 27 years ago when she was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 16.

Others were there for the first time. Eliot Dean, of Lancaster, was diagnosed with leukemia 16 months ago and was able to come to his first THON on Friday night with his family.

Check out some scenes from night one of THON 2018 and much more in the gallery below.

Jennifer Kern, center, became a Four Diamonds child 27 years ago when at the age of 16 she was diagnosed with bone cancer. She and her family traveled from Harrisburg to attend THON on Friday night. Photo: Geoff Rushton/

Penn State basketball player Mike Watkins talks with Eliot Dean of Lancaster. Dean was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia 16 months ago and wasn't able to attend THON in 2017. Photo by Geoff Rushton/

Photo by Geoff Rushton/

Corinne Zavada, left, and Audrey Zavada, right, pose with Sue Paterno at THON 2018. Audrey Zavada is a Penn State senior participating in her fourth THON and dancing for the first time. Her parents Corinne and Ray were on hand to lend support. Photo by Geoff Rushton/ 

Misterwives was the surprise opening act for THON 2018. Photo by Geoff Rushton/

The Nittany Lion dances on stage with 3AM Tokyo. Photo by Gareth Brangan/Onward State

See more in the gallery below.

Photo Gallery - THON 2018- Friday

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