By Brittany Sackett
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – A senior at Penn State New Kensington is currently the chairperson of the THON committee, which raises money for children who suffer from pediatric cancer.
Kelly Sieja, 21, of Deer Lakes, is extremely dedicated to the THON organization at Penn State New Kensington. Sieja is currently majoring in psychology and occupational therapy. Sieja said that her major and participating in THON have helped her grow. “It has made me want to help people,” she said.
According to the official THON website, THON is known as the largest student-run philanthropic organization in the world. THON is run by Pennsylvania State University students. All of the money that is raised goes to The Four Diamonds Fund, a charity devoted to combating pediatric cancer. The Four Diamonds Fund helps defeat cancer by researching and caring for children at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center Children’s Hospital.
Every February, THON participants and cancer patient 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, forty-six hours are spent interacting with the children and Penn State University students. During this time, no sitting or sleeping is allowed.
Last year, Penn State New Kensington raised $23,202.60. Sieja stated that she wants to reach over $30,000.00 this year for the organization. So far, 50 participants have joined.
“Participation has been outstanding so far,” Sieja said, “They show their dedication.”
“THON is not only about the fundraising months, its year-long,” Sieja said. Many of the event’s planning and tasks are completed during summer months as well as all of the months leading up to the kickoff events.
“This is an honorable position because I know that every second, minute, day and month I am making a difference in someone’s life,” Sieja explained, “This inspiration is shared with every member of the THON organization, which makes the members realize we are supporting a serious cause and know that we are fighting for the kids.” Sieja said that she became “completely hooked” when it came to the organization because it is for such a great cause.
“If you find an importance to you, get involved,” Sieja advised. This is only Sieja’s second year participating in THON, but she regrets it because she said she “wanted to start earlier.”
The THON fundraising season has begun, and the members will be canning during designated weekends in October, December and January outside of local businesses. Sieja said that she hopes that this THON year will be its best year yet.