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INDIANA: Annual mini-THON charity fundraiser a success

by LORRAINE YERGER, Gazette Student News Reporter on April 11, 2014 11:00 AM

On March 28, approximately 100 Indiana Area Senior High students participated in the mini-THON, a six-hour dance marathon that raises money for the Four Diamonds Fund. Indiana’s mini-THON is modeled after Penn State’s THON, a 48-hour dance marathon that raises more than $10 million dollars each year.

Organized by Leadership Seminar, the 2014 mini-THON raised a record-breaking $9,382.88 to be donated to cancer research. This year’s THON raised $1,000 dollars more than last year.

Seniors Ashley Garonzi and Kaitlyn Hoff were the chairwomen for the event.

[PHOTO: Noel Hartle, a senior at Indiana Area Senior High School, challenged the Eat’n Park Smiley Cookie to a game of Ninja at this year’s Mini-THON event.  (Lorraine Yerger/Indiana Area Senior High School photo)]

“I thought THON was a huge success again this year! We raised way more than I expected and I’m so proud of all the people in Leadership who helped the event go smoothly,” said Hoff. “It was very stressful being a chair(woman) for the whole event, but I feel so accomplished, as I think we all do, because with the money we raised we are helping to save children’s lives.”

The annual fundraiser raised money through the $25 participation fee and famous “change cup” method. Upon sign-ups, students are given a blue plastic cup that they fill with spare change over the next three weeks and then turn in during the week of THON.

The night’s exciting itinerary made the six hours fly by for the barely tiring students.

Every hour, participants met in the old gym to sing the “THON Song,” a short tune written by members of Leadership Seminar that summarizes the past year’s pop culture events. After each round of singing, gift cards were awarded to the most enthusiastic student dancers.

During the first “THON Song,” the Smiley Cookie from Eat’n Park restaurant surprised students by making an appearance. Junior Bradley Zoka raced across the gymnasium in excitement to greet the iconic mascot.

“I was so happy. He’s my hero. I hope I didn’t scare him,” said the 6-foot-4 Zoka.

In between each hour, students enjoyed an open gym or a variety of organized activities. Students were divided into four teams, each wearing a different color and representing a different “diamond.” The teams faced off throughout the night.

The Green Team won the volleyball tournament, as members of the girls’ volleyball team dominated the court.

“My favorite part of the night was the team competitions,” said junior Ryan Watters. “Cheering on your friends, trash talking the opponents — it’s great, and for a good cause.”

The Green Team further proved its supremacy in the highly anticipated tug-of-war competition, winning the co-ed match.

The night continued with the performance of local band William Forest, team relay races and a student talent show.

THON concluded with another tradition: members of Leadership each held up a poster containing the grand total raised, which had been kept a secret from participants. The students cheered as the final total was revealed.

Skilled planning, combined with the undeniable power of teenage enthusiasm, made the 2014 IHS mini-THON an unrivaled success. Leadership Seminar hopes to carry on this noble tradition for many years to come.

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