Four Diamonds Mini-THONs raise $5.7 million to help fight childhood cancer
Students from hundreds of school districts across five states gathered this morning to celebrate raising $5,778,903.93 for the fight to conquer childhood cancer. The money, raised through Mini-THON events, benefits Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, which assists families with children being treated for cancer. The fundraising total for Mini-THON events held during the 2021-22 school year was announced at the annual Four Diamonds Mini-THON Leadership Summit.
Throughout the 2021-22 school year, student leaders and volunteers from 208 school districts in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia mobilized to execute Mini-THON fundraisers and events that raised the $5.7 million. The total signifies a notable rebound from the pandemic, more than doubling last year’s Mini-THON fundraising efforts.
Mini-THON is a Four Diamonds program coordinated by K-12 students at schools in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. Modeled after the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), the multi-hour, interactive events engage hundreds of thousands of students each year to raise money that benefits Four Diamonds. The funding supports Four Diamonds families at the Children’s Hospital through world-class care and financial support, as well as ground-breaking research for new treatments and cures for all childhood cancers. Since its beginning in 1993, the Mini-THON program has contributed more than $58 million to conquer childhood cancer.
“We are so grateful for the remarkable young leaders whose energy, enthusiasm and unwavering dedication to conquering childhood cancer drive the Mini-THON movement,” said Suzanne Graney, executive director of Four Diamonds. “Each student leader is inspiring and empowering their student body and their community to join us as our partners in the fight to end childhood cancer for all kids around the world.”
Each year, student leaders and advisors gather at the Mini-THON Leadership Summit to learn from each other, collaborate and get organized as they plan Mini-THON activities for the coming school year.
“Mini-THON is the most special thing I’ve been a part of,” said Leah Levitan, a student at Lower Moreland High School in Huntingdon Valley. “There is so much passion and love as we come together to help fight childhood cancer.”
Both students and advisers repeatedly shared throughout the day how holding a Mini-THON has united their school community.
“It completely changed our middle school,” said Michael McNicholas, a senior at Radnor High School in Radnor, Pa. McNicholas organized the school’s first Mini-THON. “It’s helped build a stronger sense of community.”
Steve Whiteley, adviser at York Suburban High School, said being a part of Mini-THON is the most rewarding thing he’s been involved with in his 33 years of teaching. “It’s inspiring to see the students take ownership of such an incredible event that teaches them a variety of life skills. It’s the glue that holds the school together. We are all working together for a common cause.”
Speakers at this year’s summit included Sue Argento of Red Lion, who talked about her son, Brooks, who passed away in 2018. Brooks participated in Red Lion Area High School’s Mini-THON and later benefited from the money he raised.
“We all have a legacy to leave,” Sue told the students. “As you join us today, you have made a choice to be a part of something bigger than yourself. You may not know the ripple effect it can have on your community, on families you may never meet, but you are changing the future for kids everywhere.”
Such was the case for Gabrielle Chapman of Lancaster, who was diagnosed with brain cancer when she was 2.
“The THON money is why she is alive,” said Peg Chapman, her mother. “Four Diamonds provides an incredible gift that allows a family to focus on their child instead of worrying about how they are going to pay all the medical expenses.”
Gabrielle’s story came full circle this year when she helped her school, Lampeter -Strasburg High School, raise $47,000 for Four Diamonds.
“It’s really impactful to see how much students do to help others in their cancer journeys,” Gabrielle said. “The Mini-THON allowed me to give back.”
More information about Four Diamonds Mini-THON is available here.
With the record-breaking success of “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” which raised $2.2 billion from 2016 to 2022, philanthropy is helping to sustain the University’s tradition of education, research and service to communities across the Commonwealth and around the globe. Scholarships enable our institution to open doors and welcome students from every background, support for transformative experiences allows our students and faculty to fulfill their vast potential for leadership, and gifts toward discovery and excellence help us to serve and impact the world we share. To learn more about the impact of giving and the continuing need for support, please visit raise.psu.edu.
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