Penn State Thon Breaks Record Raises $15 Million to Fight Childhood Cancer

Penn State THON, the world’s largest student-run philanthropy that provides financial and emotional aid to families affected by childhood cancer, raised an all-time high of $15,006,132.46 following the organization’s annual 46-hour dance marathon. All proceeds benefit Four Diamonds, a national nonprofit that covers 100% of all medical expenses for families with childhood cancer at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, while also supporting cancer research at Penn State College of Medicine.

The theme of THON 2023 was “Foster the Magic” and marked the 51st year of fundraising to support Four Diamonds families. Founded by Charles and Irma Millard following the passing of their son Christopher to pediatric cancer, Four Diamonds and THON have been partners in the fight against childhood cancer since 1977.

This year, more than 700 dancers participated in the dance marathon that began at 6:00 p.m. on Friday Feb. 17 and ran nonstop through till 4:00 p.m. on Sunday Feb. 19. Recording artist Natasha Bedingfield and DJ/Producer Whethan headlined the surprise Friday and Saturday night performances at the Bryce Jordan Center, sponsored by PNC. Additionally, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and UFC middleweight and Penn State alum Bo Nickal made surprise cameos on stage over the course of THON weekend.

“To us, ‘For the Kids®’ is so much more than just a mantra. It’s the mission that drives us in our relentless pursuit to hope, support, and care for children and families experiencing childhood cancer,” said Lily Pevoto, Executive Director of THON 2023. “On behalf of everyone at THON, I would like to thank all those who donated, volunteered, and ultimately joined us in our effort to dance for a cure and continue to make breaking records part of our tradition.”

THON was originally founded in 1973 by Penn State students, and since then has grown into the world’s largest student-run philanthropy with over 16,500 student volunteers. Over the last 51 years, THON and Four Diamonds have helped over 4,800 families experiencing childhood cancer by covering all medical expenses, including comprehensive specialty care services at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. They’ve helped create and develop a multifaceted cancer research program in collaboration with Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine. This past year also saw the announcement of a Four Diamonds Center for Childhood Cancer Innovation ­Initiative, which is part of a multi-year strategic plan with a $24 million commitment for how Penn State Health’s Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology will use contributions from fundraising efforts by THON, Four Diamonds, and Four Diamonds Mini-THONs.

“Since Charles and Irma Millard established Four Diamonds 51 years ago, the collaborative efforts between Four Diamonds and THON have always been centered around putting our families first and together we remain steadfast in our unwavering pursuit to find a cure for all forms of pediatric cancer,” said Suzanne Graney, executive director of Four Diamonds. “For decades, THON and Four Diamonds have been united in the fight against childhood cancer, and we are always amazed by how supportive our communities are when it comes to helping our families. We will never stop fundraising, dancing, and fighting for a cure, no matter how long it takes.”