DuBois community invited to support THON at Dancer Send-off Dinner, Hair Auction

THON Hair Auction participants for 2022

THON Hair Auction participants for 2022 are, left to right, top row: Jacob Ebel, Colleen Lanzoni; middle: Cameron Pennington, Charis Martell, John Tolle; bottom: Hannah Allen, Nathan Murarik.

Credit: Penn State

DuBOIS, Pa. – A total of seven champions for the THON cause in the Penn State DuBois community are surrendering their own hair for the fight against pediatric cancer this year. All members of the community are invited to help support the efforts of THON by attending the Dancer Send-off Dinner and Hair Auction planned for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9 ,in the Hiller Student Union. A catered meal will be provided with access to the hair auction event for $5 for Penn State students, $15 per single ticket, and $25 for two tickets.

Braving the barber chair this year are THON dancer Hannah Allen, who has set her goal at $250 for up to five inches, but will also get curtain bangs for another $250, totaling out at $1,500; student Jacob Ebel, a current Penn State DuBois student who has set his goal at $100 per inch, up to seven inches, maxing out at $700; Colleen Lanzoni, campus counselor, who has a goal of $400 per inch up to five inches, making her total goal $2,000; Cameron Pennington, son of director of Student Affairs Rebecca Pennington, who has a goal of $200 per inch up to 10 inches, meaning his goal could hit $2,000; Charis Martell, a Penn State student and former DuBois THON co-chair who is asking for $150 per inch up to seven inches for a total of $1,050; John Tolle, professor of mathematics, who will cut his hair short for $1,000 or go bald for $1,500; and student Nathan Murarik, SGA vice president, who has decided on $200 per inch, up to five inches, but would go bald for an additional $250, totaling out at $1,250.

Hair Auction volunteers accept bids for their locks and get their hair cut if their reserve is met. This event is open to the public, and all are welcome to register here. Donations also can be made here. For more information, visit the Penn State DuBois THON page online. This event is held each year to give the campus THON dancers a fitting sendoff as they depart for the Bryce Jordan Center, and to make one more push to raise funds supporting the dancer’s efforts. This year’s official Penn State DuBois THON dancers are Hannah Allen, Haley Rummel, Elise DuFour, and Alena Keen. They will attempt to stay on their feet for the entire 46-hour Penn State Dance Marathon planned for Feb. 18-20 at the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park. This year’s overall campus fundraising goal for THON is $25,000.

The largest student-run philanthropy in the world, engaging more than 16,500 students across Pennsylvania, THON has raised more than $190 million for Four Diamonds since its inception in 1973. Last year, efforts to support THON at Penn State DuBois contributed nearly $20,000 to that total.

The event's sole beneficiary, and a leader in the fight against pediatric cancer, Four Diamonds 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 Children's Hospital recruits world-class talent to continue innovative research, and to maintain and expand the state-of-the-art hospital.

Much the same as the dancers for this year’s event, hair auction participants have also shared their deeply personal reasons for stepping up to support the cause. Cameron Pennington said, “I've chosen to support the mission of THON because one of our close family friends was impacted by pediatric cancer and I saw what cancer can do to a child and a family. Being a part of this cause feels really good because I know I'm helping someone out that is in need. I've also grown up going to THON events with my mom and understanding what it is about. I've gone to THON 16 out of the 17 years that I've been alive because my mom is one of the advisers for Penn State DuBois. As I was growing my hair, once the idea came to donate it to THON, I became excited about the opportunity because I knew what it would mean for the kids.”

Charis Martell, who is donating her hair to “Children with Hair Loss,” an organization that creates wigs for children battling disease, shared, “I joined THON at the beginning of my second year at Penn State DuBois because I knew I wanted to be part of something that makes a huge impact on the world. My first THON was THON 2020 and I just remember being there and seeing the thousands of students, parents, and alumni all come together to raise money and put smiles on the kids’ faces. We laughed together, cried together, and danced for hours and it gave me this amazing feeling and so many emotions. I knew that this was something that I wanted to continue to do for the rest of my college career. I was a Co-Chair for Penn State DuBois THON the following year and danced for THON 2021. Since then, I’ve transferred to University Park and haven’t been involved in clubs but I still want to be involved in this cause in some way. I decided at the 2021 hair auction that I wanted to donate my hair in 2022. So for the last year and a half I’ve been growing it out. I’ve always wanted to donate my hair, but never knew how to actually do it or the best organizations to donate to. One of my family members was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and I remember it was really hard for her when she started to lose her hair. I also remember how happy she was when it started to grow back. Sacrificing my hair for the kids makes me feel happy. I just hope that the little boy or girl that receives the hairpiece feels just as happy and beautiful.”

Professor of mathematics John Tolle is giving up his hair for THON for the fourth time this year. When asked why he continues to support the cause he said, “Anyone who has seen the documentary "Why We Dance" will know the answer to that question. THON is one of the most inspiring philanthropic efforts I know of anywhere in the world. It unlocks the kindness, creativity and industriousness of our students in such a beautiful way, and reminds us that we're all together in this thing called life. It's the least I can do, really. Take all the hair you want; I'll make more.”

Colleen Lanzoni, campus counselor, said, “Over the past few years since coming to Penn State DuBois, I have witnessed our students do amazing things. I have seen the shyest students blossom and grow especially through their involvement with THON. Not only does THON raise money, but it also raises the spirits and confidence of those involved. Being a part of something bigger than yourself is one of the most rewarding experiences. I don't have any magnanimous past experiences that led me to this point. It is merely a love for others and a desire to give back. It is a unique connection. You are giving your hair to someone that you don't even know, and you two now share a bond that you have with no one else. You most likely will never meet this person, but you will think of them and they will think of you. What a wonderful world.”

Hannah Allen, who is both a THON dancer and hair auction volunteer shared her motivation, saying, “I have chosen to support the mission of THON to help the families affected by pediatric cancer and for research so that way, one day, cancer will become something that can be easily treatable. To be a part of this cause means a lot to me. You never know if you will someday be personally affected by pediatric cancer and if you are, having a group like THON to provide assistance is comforting. It is important for these families to have support and know that there are many people out there who are fighting for a cure. It feels amazing to donate my hair for the kids.”

Penn State DuBois student Jacob Ebel said his inspiration for supporting THON is service above self. He shared, “I choose to support THON because there is something very freeing about putting others over yourself. Being able to help the community in any way possible is great and THON is an amazing way to get involved. Seeing everyone come together to raise money for the cause is really inspiring and shows what people can do when they put their mind to it.

"I'm glad that I can be a part of it and hope to do it again in the future.”

SGA President Nathan Murarik is fulfilling his mission as a steward of his communities, saying, “I find that being a part of THON has granted a great sense of accomplishment in the past year. Being able to dedicate oneself to such a big organization feels like I am making an impact on the world … just a little bit. Hopefully, I can learn from this experience to become better at advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Losing my hair is not a big deal for someone like me, since I am privileged enough to have it grow back in a few months. It’s the children who experience chemotherapy that need to sacrifice their hair, not me. Therefore, I am more than happy to do whatever I can, with what I have, to benefit THON and our mission to save the kids.”

All Penn State students and staff wishing to access the Bryce Jordan Center event level (floor), or mezzanine will be required to provide proof of vaccination. In addition, all families, spectators and Penn State students and staff will be required to be masked at all times, regardless of vaccination status, in accordance with University guidelines. Organizers are prepared to pivot to an online-only format should conditions require a change. More information on health and safety protocols can be found on thon.org.

For more information, contact Brittany Stanton, student engagement coordinator, at [email protected] or 814-375-4764.