UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- By 9 a.m. Sunday the doors were closed. The Bryce Jordan Center had reached its capacity. By 4 p.m. Sunday all 16,000 people (dancers, supporters and spectators) were still standing, waiting in anticipation to hear the number for which there seems to be no cap.
$12,374,034.46. THON, the annual IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, raised $12.3 million, nearly $2 million more than last year's record number.
It's like this every year. THON just seems to get bigger. Every year the Bryce Jordan Center fills up a little earlier. And every year the final announcement comes with a little more energy, excitement and anxiousness to see if last year's total has been surpassed and this year's goal reached.
How does it happen? How do Penn State University students raise an impressive total each year and then somehow raise more the next, to the point where they've now donated just more than $100 million to the Four Diamonds Fund for pediatric cancer since THON's inception in 1973?
Overall chair Will Martin pointed to new events like a worldwide line dance, as well as increased marketability from a THON documentary made this fall. He also pointed to the promise of change. As much as the structure for THON stays the same and the proceeds go to the same cause, every year brings about different people, with different ways of helping.
"We always say THON is living and breathing," Mr. Martin said. "We always need to find ways and adapt ways to spread awareness."