Home Campus Directory | A-Z Index

Four New Kensington dancers prepared for THON weekend

PSNK Students
(left to right) THON chair Lauren Richards and dancers Kelsie Nury, Erin Prager, Joe Mandak and Andrew Holodnik.
2/17/2012 —


Friday-Sunday, Feb. 17-19, Bryce Jordan Center

THON Live webcast, http://webcast.thon.psu.edu/.

Representing the Campus:
Joe Mandak, Erin Prager, Andrew Holodnik, Kelsie Nury

“All we need is music, sweet music
There'll be music everywhere
There'll be swingin', swayin' and records playin'
And dancin' in the streets.”

(From the 1985 Live Aid video, “Dancin’ in the Streets.” Song written by
Mickey Stevenson and Marvin Gaye and performed by Mick Jagger and David Bowie.)

Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Mick Jagger and David Bowie danced in the streets for a video for Live Aid to help raise money to defeat famine in Ethiopia. Penn State New Kensington students Joe Mandak, Erin Prager, Andrew Holodnik and Kelsie Nury will be dancing live in the Bryce Jordan Center for THON to help raise money to defeat pediatric cancer in the world.

The four campus representatives are packed and ready for their trip this weekend, Friday to Sunday, Feb. 17 to 19, to Penn State University Park, for the 40th edition of the annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (affectionately known as THON), a University-wide event whose goal is to fight childhood cancer.

"Becoming a dancer for THON is one of the best decisions of my life," said Prager, a senior business administration major from Natrona Heights. "My friends were involved and asked me to go with them to the meetings. I fell in love with the organization."

The New Kensington dancers will join more than 700 Penn State students from all the campuses at the Jordan Center during the 46-hour, no sitting, no sleeping marathon. All monies raised through the dance marathon directly benefit the Four Diamonds Fund at the Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

“My first THON weekend experience was last year, and there are no words to describe it,” said Mandak, a senior communications major who cheered on the 2011 dancers from the stands. “It was a ‘you got to be here to believe it’ kind of feeling.”

According to Lauren Richards, THON committee chair for the New Kensington campus, the number of dancers going to University Park from each campus is based on the amount of money raised by the campus the previous year. Last year, New Kensington students raised $52,392, shattering the campus record of $23,000 set in 2010.

The four were chosen by a nine-member interview committee comprised of students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni. The selections were based on participation in campus THON activities that began in September--canning hours, meetings attended, and raising at least $1,000 apiece.

“I especially enjoyed the canning weekends,” said Holodnik, who is studying administration of justice. “I had the chance to spread the word of THON, and I heard great stories from so many people.”

For the past month, the four hoofers have been preparing for the rigors of long-term dancing. By exercising, watching the calories, and eliminating caffeinated drinks, they fine-tuned their bodies and are ready for the challenge.

“I’ve been working out and eating healthy 24/7,” said Nury, a freshman education major from Lower Burrell. “I’m enjoying every minute of the preparation leading up to THON.”

The campus reps won’t be left to their own devices once they hit the dance floor. The University Park THON committee assigns each dancer a moraler who can attend to their needs during the marathon. Be it food, drink, or inspiration, the moraler's responsibility is to help the dancers get through the event.

In addition, the campus is supporting the dancers with about 50 students and friends in the stands who will provide an upbeat atmosphere throughout the marathon. Another group of campus students will lend support by making a day trip by bus on Saturday to the Jordan Center.

Richards, a junior from Penn Hills, set New Kensington's goal at $60,000, the most ambitious total in campus history. Nearly 75 percent of the total is already in the bank. Since last semester, campus students have been fundraising in earnest, sponsoring a variety of activities, including a spaghetti dinner, zumba night and a pie throwing contest, for what is believed to be the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.

Canning stands out as the most fun and the most lucrative fundraising vehicle for Richard’s cadre of volunteers. Rain or shine, the students stood outside area businesses, explaining the THON mission and collecting money from patrons. The cheerful demeanors of the volunteers provided the impetus for patrons to connect with their philanthropic inner being. A cancelled canning weekend due to the Jan. 21 snowstorm may have put a damper on the THON coffers, but it did not dampen the THON spirit.

“Even though we lost a canning weekend, we aren't giving up on our goal or the kids,” said Richards, an information sciences and technology major. "We may be a small campus, but we do big things. This is why I love it.”

The final totals for New Kensington and all the other Penn State units will be announced at the conclusion of the marathon. Since 1977, THON has raised $80 million for the charity. During the past 10 years, more than $162,000 in donations came from the New Kensington campus. More than 15,000 volunteers supported the cause which offers financial and emotional support to pediatric cancer patients and their families and also funds cancer research. Approximately 100 new families receive support each year.

The New Kensington dancers will have a grand send-off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16, with a campus-wide "pot-luck" dinner. The terpsichoreans need to “carbo-load,” and students, faculty and staff are encouraged to bring an assortment of pastas and other high-energy foods to help the foursome boogie all weekend.

“I know that even after I graduate, THON will have a place in my heart,” said Mandak, who serves as assistant coach for the campus basketball team. “It is that much of a life-changer. My grandfather passed away in the summer from throat cancer, and I don’t want the kids going through the pain and fear that he went through.”

Donations are still being accepted and can be made by visiting https://secure.imodules.com/s/1218/thon/thon.aspx?sid=1218&gid=1&pgid=671&cid=2344 online. Please be sure to designate the New Kensington campus for the credit.

For more on campus THON, contact Lauren Blum, student life coordinator, 724-334-6063 or ldb14@psu.edu via email.


(Parody of words and music of the 1985 Live Aid video, “Dancin’ in the Streets,” performed by Mick Jagger and David Bowie, who collaborated on a cover of the 1964 song written by Mickey Stevenson and Marvin Gaye and performed by Martha and the Vandellas).

To view the Jagger-Bowie video,
http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=dancing+in+the+street&mid=AE0862E2973B1A91104BAE0862E2973B1A91104B&view=detail&FORM=VIRE7 online.

OK, Penn State
University Park, New Kensington, York, Altoona, Schuylkill, Mont Alto
Callin' out around the state, are you ready for a brand new vid?
Winter's here and the time is right for dancin' for the kids.

Dancin' in State College (dancin' for the kids)
From all ‘cross Penn State (dancin' for the kids)
In Jordan Center

All we need is money, fightin’ cancer,
There'll be students everywhere
There'll be swingin' swayin', and records playin,
Dancin' for the kids

Oh it doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.
So twist and shout, boys and girls,
Raising funds, around the world
There'll be dancin', they're dancin' for the kids.

This is an invitation, for the Penn State nation,
Alumni can do what students did
There'll be laughin' singin', and music swingin'
Dancin' for the kids

New Kensington P.A., Beaver and Fayette now,
Don't forget the DuBois city,
On the streets of Shenango
Back in the Behrend College
It’s the kids we acknowledge

All we need is money, fightin’ cancer
There'll be students everywhere
There'll be swingin' swayin', and records playin,
Dancin' for the kids

Oh it doesn't matter what you wear, just as long as you are there.
So twist and shout, boys and girls,
Raising funds, around the world
They're dancin', dancin' for the kids

Way down in G.A., every day they're dancin' for the kids
Across the white and blue, THON and you
We're dancin  for the kids

Email this story to a friend Facebook Twitter