DUBOIS, Pa. — Steve Carns, of Clearfield, and Braden Neal, of Punxsutawney, have been chosen to represent Penn State DuBois at THON 2016 as the campus' official THON dancers. The honor will place the pair in the middle of the action as they attempt to dance and stay on their feet for 46 consecutive hours to support the battle against childhood cancer. THON 2016 will take place Friday, Feb. 19, until Sunday, Feb. 21, at the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park.
"THON, to me, means hope," said Neal, sharing the reasons he has devoted time and hard work to the cause. "Seeing thousands of people coming together, pouring their heart and souls into such a noble cause reminds me of the amount of compassion and altruism the human race is capable of. Knowing that people like that are still in abundance on Earth gives me hope for a better tomorrow."
Carns revealed personal reasons that bring the philanthropic dance marathon close to his heart. "THON conveys a sense of family," he said. "As a family, my THON [team] worked tirelessly in order to achieve one selfless goal, to raise money in order to fight an invisible enemy despite many apparent obstacles. Personally, I have a very close relation with cancer in my family, and I'm aware of what a detriment it can be toward happiness. I don't want another child to worry about going outside and playing with their friends because of an incurable disease."
With an abundance of passion for the mission and spirit of THON, both young men are eager to meet the challenge of the marathon weekend.
"I want to represent THON as a dancer because I want to be a part of something greater than myself. I love serving others, and when I got asked to try and be a dancer I knew that this was my opportunity to serve like never before," Neal said.
Carns added, "I'm familiar with many of the past dancers and we all seem to share something, and that is that we love to get crazy about helping people. I wanted to be a part of a team that dedicated their time to others. I love the positive environment established by THON and my only desire is to one day find cures for the incurable."
The largest student-run philanthropy in the world, engaging more than 15,000 students across Pennsylvania, THON raised $13,026,653 last year. Since its inception in 1977, THON has raised $127 million for the Four Diamonds Fund, the event's sole beneficiary, and a leader in the fight against pediatric cancer. The Four Diamonds Fund fills in the funding gaps that insurance leaves for the patients it serves, enabling families to focus on caring for their child. Because of large donors like THON, Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital recruits world-class talent to continue innovative research, and to maintain and expand the state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital.