By Gretchen Toy
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – A junior at Penn State New Kensington currently serves as the chairperson of the Thon committee, which raises funds for children who suffer from pediatric cancer.
Deanna Mazur, 21, of Natrona Heights, is very dedicated to all of the work that she does for Thon at Penn State New Kensington. Mazur is currently studying business, and hopes to one day work in the marketing department of a non-profit organization.
According to the official website, Thon is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Students from various Penn State campuses join in a yearlong effort to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund. The fund provides monetary help to families of children who suffer from pediatric cancer.
Each year in February, Thon members and families gather for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. Students and families gather in the Bryce Jordan Center at Penn State University Park. While at the marathon, there are forty-six hours where no sitting or sleeping is allowed.
Mazur first became interested in Thon at a summer leadership conference in 2007. “I could feel the energy from the people who were speaking about Thon,” Mazur said. “The energy in the room made me very excited, and I wanted to become a part of the good cause.”
Soon after attending the leadership conference, Mazur became the chairperson of the Thon committee at Penn State New Kensington. Last year, her Thon committee at the campus raised $8,600 for the children. Mazur is keeping the monetary goal for Thon a secret this year.
“The amount of money that we end up raising is our goal,” Mazur said. “We are doing our best to make people aware of pediatric cancer. It’s all for the kids.”
However, raising money is not the only goal of the Thon organization.
“It’s not just about money; it is also about the emotional support that we provide for the families of the children who are suffering,” Mazur said. “We spread awareness of pediatric cancer.”
“All you see is the fundraising, but it’s so much more than that,” said Mazur, with tears in her eyes. “The Thon dance marathon allows these children to feel completely free from cancer for a weekend. We provide them with financial and emotional support.”
Mazur encourages all students and faculty at Penn State New Kensington to become involved with the Thon organization.
“There are so many ways that people can help out,” Mazur said. “They can attend our Thon meetings each Wednesday. They can also help with one of our fundraising events, or even collect money by canning outside of a local business. People also personally donate money to the cause.”
The Thon fundraising season has begun, and the committee will be selling pop and snacks at Penn State New Kensington’s Midnight Madness on Oct. 15. The committee also plans to host a Murder Mystery Dinner, a dodge ball tournament, a pie your professor day, and gift-wrapping at local malls.