The Penn State DuBois THON dancers, Evan Aravich and Jessica Metzger, were sent off to the world's largest student-run philanthropy event in style Thursday night, with the THON Dancer Sendoff in the student union. The event included a hair auction, which raised $1,680 for the cause. In all, the Penn State DuBois THON Committee raised $15,643 to contribute to the University-wide total this year, surpassing its $15,000 goal.
Aravich and Metzger represented the campus at THON, the 46-hour dance marathon at the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park. They stayed on their feet the entire time from Feb. 21 through Feb. 23 along with more than 700 students from all Penn State locations, raising $13.3 million. All proceeds directly benefit the Four Diamonds Fund, an organization dedicated to battling childhood cancer. Students from across all of Penn State work in numerous ways to raise money for the cause, holding the dance marathon at the end of a long fundraising season.
The THON Dancer Sendoff featured a dinner, remarks by former THON dancers and recognition of the campus' THON family, the Setlocks, of DuBois. One of the Setlock children, Joey, battled childhood cancer and beat it in years past. The family was supported by the efforts of THON and the Four Diamonds Fund throughout their battle, and the DuBois THON committee was their sponsor and support network.
"This is coming home," said mother Kathy Setlock. "It was a nightmare, but DuBois was there for us. You were always here."
A highlight of the evening was the hair auction, during which three volunteers went under the clippers for the cause. Those in the audience placed bids in order to raise enough money for the volunteers to get their hair cut. Each volunteer set a minimum amount that had to be reached in order for them to lose their locks, but all amounts were surpassed.
Six-year-old Adell Doty, the daughter of Assistant Director of Student Affairs Marly Doty, captured the hearts of the THON faithful by having 10 inches of her hair cut off. Not only did she raise money for THON, but she's also donating her hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients from real human hair. Adell said, "I did it for love, and so kids with cancer can have hair."
Penn State DuBois student Chrissy Lockwood also volunteered, but it wasn't her first time around. In 2011 Lockwood went all the way for the THON Hair Auction and shaved her head. She also donated to Locks of Love; her hair had been past her shoulders.
"I donate my hair because I am not financially capable of giving the amount of money that I can raise by donating my hair," Lockwood said. "I am fortunate to have hair. I don't have cancer, I haven't lost my hair to chemotherapy. This is the least I can do. It makes me feel good, but more importantly, I just feel like I should because I can."
Another special guest who volunteered for a haircut was Steve Bearfield. Bearfield helped to start the tradition of the hair auction when he was a student on campus in the spring of 2001.
"I spent four years at Penn State DuBois, and during that time, I learned many things. In my opinion, the most important lesson I learned was one of service to community. Service takes many forms from helping build a house for a family in financial need, to buying a hoagie for a child's soccer team and even allowing a group of students to auction off someone's hair to raise money for children suffering the horror of cancer," Bearfield said. "THON affected me in a deeply personal manner when I was a student at DuBois, and it is probably the one aspect of being a Penn State Alumni that time and distance will never diminish in meaning. I marvel and applaud how the campus and students have rallied around the mission of THON and brought it into the greater DuBois community."
Metzger and Aravich left the sendoff event and immediately set course for Happy Valley, energized by the experiences they just had, and by the anticipation of those to come.
Metzger said, "The dancer sendoff was inspiring, and it really set the mood that we are dancing for THON."
Aravich agreed, saying, "It was a really great recognition not only for us as dancers but for the amount of hard work our committee at DuBois has done all year. It was so nice to sit with my family, enjoy a dinner and just know that for 46 hours we will have the support of everyone who attended the sendoff as we stand 46 hours to bring pediatric cancer to its knees. I cannot wait for our committee members to take the stands in the Bryce Jordan Center, there are no words to explain the atmosphere at THON and all of their hard work will show during this weekend."