Every year, thousands of students pack into the Bryce Jordan Center for Penn State’s THON: a 46-hour dance marathon.
But this year, due to COVID-19, students are dancing separately from their own apartments and dorm rooms.
That’s because since cancer never stops — the show must go on.
“I just remember her telling me, We’re going to Hershey.”
That’s what Denise Packer told her husband, Dean, in 2019.
Their 14-year-old son Ryan started feeling sick, so they went to Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey to get a diagnosis.
“They came in and told us it was B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia,” Dean said.
Children at that hospital are helped financially by Four Diamonds, which is what Penn State’s THON raises money for.
The organization covers any cost insurance does not.
So, the Packers became a Four Diamonds family.
“When Ryan was admitted, I told him, ‘I will stay with you. I will not leave until you go home,'” Denise said.
Because of Four Diamonds, Denise said they were able to take off work and stay overnight with Ryan without worrying about their finances.
“It’s amazing because they pay for every bill and hospital stay that you have, and THON is an amazing event to go to,”
We are happy to report that Ryan is currently in remission.
So now, even with COVID-19, students are still gathering virtually for that “no sitting, no sleeping” 46-hour marathon.
“The funding is not going to stop. The community surrounds these students,” Dean said.
The Packer family said they’ll now pay it forward and dance for the same cause.
“We made donations this year to our THON chair members. That’s what we do,” he said.
THON began Friday at 6:00 and will continue until Sunday at 4:00.