February 18, 2016


If you ask people close to me they will tell you I have a love hate relationship with Penn State but there is something about State College, that brings joy to my heart.The thing that makes me the most proud as an alum is THON. THON was founded in 1973 by PSU students and is a 46 hour dance marathon fundraiser where proceeds go to Childhood Cancer and the Four Diamonds Fund. Last year THON raised 13.3 MILLION dollars, yep you read that right. It has inspired dance marathons all over the country and is the largest student run philanthropy in the WORLD (find out more HERE). If you are still confused about it take a look at this video 

Childhood cancer, YUCK, no one wants to hear about it because people cannot imagine precious and innocent children suffering like that. Well folks it happens and it is truly the worst. This past year I got an up close and personal view into this club that no one wants to be a part of. This story starts not with Penn State but with my friend Dana, Dana and I have been friends for almost 20 years. We met in middle school and both were equally deterred by our resting bitch faces and we quickly wrote each other off. The following year, in high school we got placed in the same honors English class and the rest was history. We became fast friends, Dana will talk to a blank wall and I'm good at listening.The first thing you notice about Dana is her piercing blue eyes usually framed by dark brown hair (if that's the color at the time) I used to be so jealous of those eyes but as an adult what makes them sparkle is the soul that possess her. She's funny and so smart, beautiful and most importantly kind. If she had a super power it would be an empath,  she has the ability to feel all the feelings all the times and uses that ability to connect to others (she is also a super organization queen). She has been the most amazing friend, has literally had my back and championed me when others have not, she lets me be me but what she does that a lot of friends do not is she works to try and understand those around her; what is troubling them, why do certain things matter to them, and then educates herself to be an even better friend. LIKE WHAT? Shes my sister in love and I love her deeply.

At the end of 2014  I got  a phone call that would literally change my life. Dana was in the hospital with her youngest daughter Avery, they had just done a scan of Avery's head and found a mass. Avery was diagnosed with an extremely rare brain tumor called AT/RT shortly after. How quickly things get put into perspective. As I watched Dana and her family navigate this I was often in awe of her grace and strength. I would visit her and Avery at Children's and we would catch up and laugh and cry and then I would go home and cry some more out of frustration, sadness, anger and confusion. Avery would eventually succumb to her illness in April of 2015 at the age of 2. That little lady bug fought really hard and could teach some grown folks how to kick cancer ass like a boss.  It is hard to believe that in 2 months it will be a year since this beautiful spirit left us. Time is  funny thing, it moves whether you want it to or not, not really caring what you need from it. I say that my life was changed simply because I knew Avery, she is part of me now because she is part of Dana just like her big sister Ella , who I am convinced is my soul sister in sass.  Avery also helped me make a pretty big life decision and peruse something I've been sitting on and that is grad school here in England & writing. I just felt like you cannot make excuses to remain stagnant because it is safe when life is clearly moving forward. It is precious and fleeting and we owe it to ourselves to make the most of it. 

Childhood cancer research in the US is severely under funded, getting just a mere 4% of national funds. Furthermore, our kids are given treatments that are often as old, if not older than me and create side effects (if known) that are devastating. Avery didn't die OF cancer but the effects caused by her treatments. I think we owe the little humans so much more. I would encourage people to find out more , check out THIS video and read more about what you can do to help.

How does this relate to THON you ask well, THON weekend starts tomorrow at 8PM, feel free to donate HERE and help support but if you can't that is fine but send a tweet, a like, a letter to a dancer just sending them words of encouragement is appreciated, by hours 28 they need all the love they can get. I just want to send love to all the dancers, all those involved in the planning because it is a massive production and makes a huge difference. THON just means so much to me now and I will forever support it and if they need an alumni engagement chair CALL ME!

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has" - Margaret Mead

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