YORK, Pa. — Two students from Penn State York are breaking in their dancing shoes, gearing up for the annual THON dance marathon.
Domenic Sciortino and Omar Elhasany will represent the York campus at University Park, Pennsylvania State University's main campus and home to THON. The event challenges participants to stay on their feet for a full 46 hours while raising money for the fight against childhood cancer.
Students fundraise for the event year-round. The team has held car washes, food sales, dine-outs and barbershop benefits over the past year.
"Those are very important; that's how we get all of our money," Sciortino said.
THON has raised over $200 million and benefitted over 4,000 families with their efforts. Donations go towards music therapy for patients, wigs for children who lose their hair during treatment, routine hospital visits, spinal tap procedures and securing private hospital rooms for sick children and their families.
Sciortino and Elhasany were excited to be chosen to represent Penn State York at the main event this year—although they're understandably nervous about the prospect of staying awake for 46 hours.
Don't count them out just yet, though—they have a plan.
"They told us to start working out more, increasing our cardio, improving our diet, staying away from caffeine; lots of stuff that really keeps us standing on our feat and improves our health overall," Elhasany said.
Sciortino, a freshman, has a bit of a head start, as he was involved with his high school's mini-THON.
Elhasany, a senior, has been waiting for his chance to dance since his freshman year. In past years, he was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the responsibility of being chair of Penn State York's THON.
The duo can't wait to experience the energy and excitement in the Bryce Jordan Center firsthand.
"What everyone tells me is that once you're actually on the floor, you're having such a good time you don't even know how many hours go by, and then all the sudden it's over and you're like 'oh wow, that was it?'" Sciortino said.
For those who want to support the cause, donations can be made online here. People can also tune in to a livestream of the event to get a glimpse of the festivities for themselves.
"THON is going to be broadcasted live online," Elhasany said. "Another important thing that people can do to show their support is by donating to the organization page itself—everything counts. And honestly, just knowing that there are people supporting us is what really keeps us going."
Sciortino and Elhasany have a little over a week left to prepare for the 46-hour dance marathon. THON will be held in the Bryce Jordan Center at University Park from 6 p.m. on Feb. 17 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 19.