THON Line Dance 2017

THON: Fighting For Life and Relief

We danced in hopes of finding a cure. One day, we hope we get to dance in celebration of one.

By: Rachel Olszewski
Guest Written by Jesse Macko, THON Dancer & Chair

Last spring, I was selected to be Penn State Wilkes-Barre’s THON chair. I was honored and excited to be leading such an amazing cause, but little did I know how drastically it would affect my outlook on life.

I knew the position would take a lot of work, but I didn’t understand how much work a lot actually was. Trying to juggle a job, school, an internship, staying healthy, a social life, and THON is not an easy task. Even harder? Trying to lead THON successfully while maintaining all those aspects of your life. Challenge accepted!

Thankfully, I wouldn’t have to do it alone. I had an amazing executive board to help me along the way. Julia Miller, Jeff Carter, Susan Huey, Sam Amos, and Emily Garrity were all there to help me when I needed them. Plus the most amazing advisor you could think of, Michelle Yaple, was there to help me during my busiest times.

Along the journey, we picked up 20-30 volunteers that would complete our Penn State Wilkes-Barre THON family. At the time, I didn’t know that this family would be one of the most hard-working, dedicated groups of people I’ve ever met.

I know I drove them crazy at times, but, if you’re reading this, know that it was because I believed we could be a successful committee if we worked hard enough, which we were. Whether it was giving you guys times and places for canning, commanding you to get in your positions so you could scare a group of teenagers, or telling you to jump into a lake of freezing cold water in the middle of January, you did everything I asked of you and more. Despite my year of dictatorship, I hope that I’m someone you guys can look to as a friend. I hope that if you need help with anything, you think of me as someone you can always count on. You gave me your commitment. All I can do is return the favor.

Throughout the year, we held a Zombie 5k, a haunted house, a polar plunge, a lip sync battle, and many other events that would push us to our limit. Despite monetarily not being successful with every event we held, no matter what the fundraiser was, we were successful in our passion and volunteerism. It was upsetting at times to know we wouldn’t be hitting our original goal. But then came THON weekend.

Julia Miller, our co-chair, and I would dance for 46 hours straight to raise awareness for children with pediatric cancer. Nerves built up in my system not knowing if I would be able to accomplish this task, but with Julia and our committee by my side, I knew it was something I had to give my all to.

Starting February 17th at 6:00 p.m., Julia and I would begin our challenge. That same challenge we had to face for 46 hours is felt by children and families every single day. Our pain was only temporary compared to the pain these families have to endure. That was the mental state that I used to keep myself motivated throughout the 46 hours. On Sunday, February 19th at 4:00 p.m., Julia and I successfully completed our task.

I have gained so much out of THON weekend and THON itself. For one, I have gained another family. I have gained another mother, Michelle Yaple, who I know will always be there to help me. Two amazing new friends (who Julia and I also joked to be our parents), our Moralers, Alana and Devin. Two people who Julia and I can both agree that we owe our lives to. You are both amazing people and thank you for your support THON weekend.

Last, and most importantly, a new outlook on life. Every day, the Four Diamonds families fight for life and relief. They fight for the day when their kid gets to hear the news that they can go home from the hospital. For 46 hours, Julia and I felt a mere fraction of the pain those children go through. At the same time, we were able to experience the infectious happiness that keeps them moving. We could see firsthand the impact THON has on their lives.

We danced in hopes of finding a cure. One day, we hope we get to dance in celebration of one.