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Onward State Staffers Reflect On Their First THON

From online learning to mask-wearing, this year has held a lot of firsts for everyone.

On top of that, this past weekend brought everyone’s first virtual THON, after all. Naturally, we wanted to hear from our newest staffers — freshmen and those new to University Park — and learn what they took away from their first-ever THON.

Charles Reinert

It was definitely an interesting first THON, to say the least. I’m a 2+2 student, and I have been looking forward to coming to my first THON since I was small.

At Penn State Abington, there was a big involvement with the event, but only a few people would come up for THON itself. I always figured I’d get more involved in THON when my two years at Abington were up, but fate had different plans.

Thanks to the pandemic, I watched THON from my downtown State College apartment with my roommate and covered it with this here blog. Sure, it wasn’t normal, but you know what? I had a great time with THON.

Life gave us a big ol’ thing of lemons for this year’s dance marathon, but I can honestly say that I made as much lemonade as I could. Plus, I did get more involved with fundraising this year and ran in the THON 5k this past fall.

It was really cool to see those numbers go up at the end knowing that we as a Penn State community helped raise that money together. Here’s hoping we’ll be in the BJC next year. But if it’s not in the cards, I guess I’ll just need to make some more lemonade. Maybe I’ll make some pink lemonade, too.

Mackenna Yount

I’ve grown up hearing snippets of stories from my parents and cousins about their THON experiences, but what I was imagining then can’t compare to what THON is actually like.

Although my first ever THON was virtual, it still was one of the coolest things I’ve been a part of and definitely the best experience I’ve had so far at Penn State — regardless of the sleep deprivation.

Covering THON with the blog really sealed the deal for me. The graveyard shift was a trip, to be honest, but I still really enjoyed getting to know THON and other staffers better. I think I would’ve missed out on a lot if I wasn’t a part of the THON coverage, especially since I am not involved in any organizations.

This experience was truly a memorable one, and I’m so proud of everything that our community has accomplished. We raised over $10 million, we really did that! Seeing and hearing from all of the families and dancers and alumni and everybody in between made my heart happy.

Connor Donohue

I spent my first two years at Penn State in Harrisburg and then Altoona, so this was the first THON I was a part of as a University Park student. I stood for 14 hours at the BJC last year but I didn’t get the true experience THON usually provides. It was the same case this year due to the virtual format, but I got a better understanding of what THON means to the Penn State community.

Raising money and covering THON this year brought me a sense of satisfaction, gratitude, and pride in my school that I hadn’t had before. I’ve been a Penn State kid since birth, but that definition of what it means to be a Penn Stater was redefined when I was watching the total reveal Sunday afternoon.

It almost brought tears to my eyes when I saw that my fellow students were able to come together for this great cause and raise more than $10 million, in the middle of a pandemic nonetheless.

The spirit and passion that a lot of my friends had for THON was something I hadn’t seen before. At the end of the weekend, all I could do was smile. THON is something really special, and I can’t wait to be in the BJC next year for my first true and final THON as a student.

Annie Kubiak

I honestly did not know a lot about THON before coming up to Penn State, and I am not a member of any THON orgs, so I was not sure how my very first experience would be.

As a photographer for Onward State, I spent most of my THON Weekend running around campus and downtown with my camera trying to take pictures for the blog. On one venture out to the BJC, I found people drawing with chalk on the sidewalk on why they THON.

I thought that was a beautiful way for the Penn State community to safely come together and share their love for THON. Finally, when I watched the reveal of the grand total, I was so proud of everything that Penn State accomplished in such a difficult and stressful year.

Matt Rudisill

As a 2+2 student and a first-time THON-viewer, I was incredibly impressed with the content that was put out all weekend. 

Having zero experience with THON in the past, I really didn’t know what to expect coming into an all-virtual experience, but I think the folks at THON certainly made the most of the situation.

My reflection may have been simple, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Raising $10,638,078.62 in a pandemic proves how much this community truly cares about THON.

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Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.


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