South Williamsport Area High School students danced the night away to help fight pediatric cancer, by participating in Mini-THON. The goal for the students in seventh through 12th grades was to keep moving from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., to raise $30,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund, which is Penn State Hershey's Children's Hospital's Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
This is the third year that the high school has hosted the Mini-THON. The event idea was taken from Penn State University's annual THON event. At Penn State, it is a 46-hour, no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon known as THON Weekend.
After attending a Blue and White game at Penn State University, and hearing how much money the students raised, Ryan Carper, adviser to the Mini-THON committee, brought the idea to South Williamsport.
South Williamsport seventh-grade student Megan Weber, 13, races against her fellow students to try to get an Oreo cookie from her forehead into her mouth without using her hands.
He did some research to realize that there are Mini-THONs held across 118 schools state wide. He got the students involved, and in 2012 South Williamsport Area High School became the first - and only - school to the local area to host a Mini-THON.
The event began with the Snyder family telling their story with the Four Diamonds Fund. Kevin Snyder, a South Williamsport Area High School alumni, explained that his daughter, Emily, was diagnosed with cancer and they made the decision to send her to Hershey's Children's Hospital. The Four Diamonds Fund asked the Snyders if they would want to be a Four Diamonds Family. The family agreed, and were assigned a caseworker. From there, the fund took care of the medical bills and much more.
The fund paid for everything that the insurance companies would not cover, meal tickets at the hospital, hotels when the Ronald McDonald House was unavailable, therapy, medicine and so much more, said Snyder.
The Snyder family was able to put their focus on Emily to help her fight the cancer, and that is exactly what she did. Emily is now five years in remission and cancer free.
"If it were not for the Four Diamonds Fund, she (Emily) would probably not be here today," said Snyder.
"People have lost their homes because of this and everything they have. We are able to say that we still have our daughter and we are thriving," Emily's mom, Jenifer Snyder, said.
After the Snyders told their story, the students were lead in a countdown by, Jennifer Jackson, chairwoman of the Mini-THON organization, to kick off the 12-hour dance event. When the students counted down to one, the gym erupted with music and the students started dancing and enjoying the event's activities.
The students were kept moving with games including, twister and bean-bag-toss. There was also an inflatable obstacle course for the students to run through, and to challenge their friends to race in. Volleyball competitions were set up for the students to complete as well.
Throughout the night there were different hours set aside for different activities. There was sugar-rush hour, where the students were able to eat ice cream to get their energy up. Karaoke hour allowed the students to channel their inner Madonna and belt our their favorite songs. There were techno black light dance hours, where students danced in the glow of the neon lights in their neon shirts. There also was plenty of food to keep the students energized for the 12-hour dance party.
Donations will continue to be accepted for the Mini-THON until June. To make a donation to the Mini-THON, visit www.swasd.org and click on "3rd annual miniTHON."
Checks made payable to SWAHS Sr. Student Council, can be mailed to, 700 Percy St., South Williamsport, PA 17702.