Some of our loyal commenters have grumbled about my continuing number of pro Penn State blog posts. Well, they're going to have to stay unhappy because there are 10.68 million reasons to read on.
Mrs. Jake and I traveled to State College Saturday to enjoy the "Thon" finale with the real Jake. In a nutshell, main campus and extension campus students raise money for Thon all year, most visibly during the street corner canning appeal, culminating this weekend in a 46 hour dance marathon. This effort, benefiting the fight against pediatric cancer through the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital, is regarded as the largest student-run philanthropic initiative in the world, and has raised over $88 million in the 30 plus years it has been in existence.
Obviously, this has been a difficult year for Penn State to solicit donations, even for this wonderful cause. Last year, they broke all records by raising $9.5 million, an extraordinary sum in a troubled economy. There was concern that all the negative publicity would hurt the current effort. Thankfully, it did not. Shortly after 4pm Sunday, it was announced that this year's Thon raised the stunning amount of $10,686,924.83.
Thon was an emotional event this year, missing the traditional pep talk to the weary dance marathoners from the beloved JoePa. His son, Jay, spoke in his place. But you couldn't miss the thousands of T-shirts which reflected how much JoePa was on everybody's mind and how Thon represents the ideals he lived and taught, "We are... because you were."
Update -- I would be remiss if I didn't mention the local kids who figured prominently in Thon. Mairead Hanna, a senior from Middletown was one of the co-chairs of the event. Dylan McAndrew and Michelle Green, seniors also from Middletown, were both marathon dancers for the full 46 hours. And the real Jake's fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, raised over $160,000 for the cause.