While the Penn State Dance Marathon, now in its 37th year, is no longer a fresh news story (“Penn State Students Begin Annual Dance Marathon Known as THON,” Feb. 21), I find its message to be more topical today than ever. At a time in our history where a vast number of Americans view health care safety nets as frivolous governmental intervention, the students at Penn State provide just that to families with children stricken by cancer.
In concert with the Four Diamonds Fund at the Hershey Medical Center, hundreds of families are told annually that money will never be an obstacle in providing their children with the best treatment available, irrespective of the cost. Parents faced with financial ruin are instead told to focus their time and energies on nurturing their child back to good health. This year alone the program raised over $13.3 million, a staggering accomplishment!
Being fortunate enough to have attended this year’s event, I was most taken by the loving air of altruism displayed by each of the 15,000-plus students in attendance. In spite of whatever one may have heard of Penn State University these past few years, this school has created a culture of caring unlike any institution on the planet. More important, these kids aren’t in it for the novelty; rather, THON becomes a core component to their very being. Not only are they standing on street corners “canning” for donations, but they also become personally engaged with the stricken children and their families, providing the kind of medicine not dispensed by a pharmacy.
The sense of caring and charity demonstrated by these Penn State students truly embodies the very best of the human spirit and, by my measure, the greatest hope for mankind.
ALAN M. DUNN