Last week, Penn State alumnus Mark Stephens finished a 170-mile journey to raise funds and awareness for THON. Walking all the way from Bethesda, MD to State College, PA, this adventure was no small feat! We connected with Mark to ask him about his experience.
DMAIG: Tell us a bit about your Penn State background. When did you graduate, what did you study, etc. What is your previous history with THON and its cause?
MS: My father taught at Penn State for 30 years, so PSU is truly part of my life experience. My wife and I met at Penn State and are true blue members of Nittany Nation. I graduated in ’86 with a degree in Liberal Arts and stayed for a Master’s in Exercise Science (‘89g). In the mid ’80’s, THON was in the White Building—Patty and I would stop in to see our friends but I was never particularly involved with THON at that point in time. Over the years, as THON grew, so did our interest in supporting THON.
DMAIG: Your fundraiser is quite a unique one. What gave you the idea to walk 170 miles For The Kids?
MS: I retired from the Navy this August. I recognized that I would likely need time to transition to a post-military career. Blending a transitional time (literally and figuratively) with supporting THON seemed like a natural fit. The walk was the culmination—I thought it would be a reasonable idea to try and contribute to PSU/THON while concurrently using the walk to reflect on things past and things to come.
DMAIG: What suggestions do you have for other Penn State alumni who want to get involved in THON, either for the first time or as a continuation from their time as a student?
MS: The student THON leaders have been fantastic. They are organized, enthusiastic and supportive. Any interested alumni would be well served to touch base with student leadership to brainstorm and bring ideas to fruition.
DMAIG: What’s next for you after this now that you’ve arrived in State College?
MS: I am thrilled to be taking a job with Penn State Health. The Penn State College of Medicine is involved in multiple innovations in medical education, one of them involving a unique and novel approach to medical school taking place here in State College. I can’t wait to join the team.
Thanks Mark for taking some time to tell us about your experience, and thanks for your commitment to THON and Penn State! Your story is inspiring, and it is THON alumni and supporters like yourself who spread THON’s story far outside central PA.
If you are interested in starting your own THON initiative, or want to know how you can get involved in your area, contact Corbin Reno, Alumni Events Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you love THON and Chipotle and you live in PA, get ready for a great day on September 25!
To wrap up the first Fundraising Outreach and Canning Weekend of the year, every single Chipotle restaurant in the state of Pennsylvania will be donating a portion of proceeds from every purchase when you mention “THON!”
We’re so excited that alumni and supporters across the entire state can help participate in this huge fundraiser. So, gather your friends, family, and fellow burrito-lovers for lunch or dinner (or both!) and #GoGoldFTK.
This weekend, Penn State Football takes on Temple in a gridiron battle, and Beaver Stadium will be participating in its second annual “Stripeout” – in addition, Penn State Football will be going FTK!
With the promo code “THON16” at THIS LINK, 50% of ticket proceeds will be donated to benefit THON! We’re looking forward to seeing you there for kickoff at noon.
If you can’t make the trip to good ol’ Happy Valley, you can still help support the cause from afar. Gather your fellow Penn State alumni (or PSU fans and supporters of THON) and host a fundraiser at a local sports bar/restaurant. While you cheer on the Nittany Lions, collect pledges for things like Penn State touchdowns, forced turnovers, and made field goals! View the pledge sheet for more information at the bottom of this post.
Have questions? Send us an email at email@example.com and we can help you organize.
After an incredibly successful first year, the Fairfax 5K is back for a second year!
On Saturday, September 24, join fellow Penn State alumni and THON supporters as they race around Fairfax, VA, For The Kids. Registration is $40. In addition to the 5K, there will also be a Kids Fun Run ($10 registration) — a great opportunity to introduce your little ones to the mission of THON. The event officially kicks off at 8:30 a.m. for the Kids Fun Run, with the 5K following at 9 a.m. For more information or to register for the event, visit Fairfax5K.com.
Not a runner but still want to be involved? The Fairfax 5K organizers are looking for race day volunteers! Fill out this form if you are interested in volunteering on the day of the event.
Additionally, in advance of the race, there will be a fundraiser at Dogfish Head Alehouse in Fairfax on September 21. For more information, please visit the Facebook event page.
If you have any questions about the Fairfax 5K, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 808-KIDS (5437).
Lace up your sneakers and join Team DMAIG at the Conquer Run at Hershey Park on Saturday, September 24!
Each year, the 5K Run and Fun Walk raises funds for Four Diamonds and honors a Four Diamonds child – this year’s Honorary Hero is Lily Jordan! Runners can register for $40, with walkers at $30 – and youth runners/walkers can join in for $20.
Runners start at 7:30am and walkers commence at 8am. Register online by clicking here. To join our team, when prompted, click “join an existing team” and search for “DMAIG16.” Registration is open until September 17, or until the event sells out.
We’ll have both runners and walkers participating – we hope to see you there! For more info about the run or sponsorship opportunities, email Suzanne Graney at email@example.com.
Summertime is for baseball – and baseball FTK is even better.
Coming up on Saturday, August 20, the Binghamton Mets (Double-A affiliate of the New York Mets) will be hosting a fundraiser to support THON! $3 of every ticket purchased online with the “THON” promo code will be donated, FTK. Purchase your ticket(s) by clicking here. Fans can also simply mention “THON” at the box office to have their portion donated.
The BMets, as they’re affectionately known, play at NYSEG Stadium and will host the Portland Sea Dogs, an affiliate of the Boston Red Soz.
Scott French of the Greater Binghamton Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association has been working hard all summer to make it happen, so big shoutout to Scott and the chapter for their hard work!
If you’re at the game, be sure to post your pictures with the #AlumniFTK hashtag – and tweet/tag DMAIG so we can share it, too!
For more information, you can call the Binghamton Mets box office at 607-723-6387, or send Scott an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you may have heard, The Hope Express released a message late last week, stating that the annual run has come to a close after 10 years. They will not be running The Hope Express in 2017. While it may come as a surprise to the greater THON community, we understand that this event is a huge effort and takes a toll on the organizational leadership year after year.
We sincerely appreciate everything that Hank, Connie and the Angus family have done for THON, DMAIG, and Four Diamonds over the last 10 years. The Hope Express proved to be a great way for alumni to give back to THON, much like many other independent alumni events across the country. Even though this event has come to an end, it is part of DMAIG’s mission to continue to find ways for alumni to feel connected to the cause.
As it becomes available to us, we will release any pertinent information regarding The Hope Express and any other alternative initiatives driven by DMAIG. Further questions about The Hope Express can be directed to Hank and Connie Angus via email at email@example.com.
To read the full statement from The Hope Express, click here.
This Saturday, tons of Penn Staters and Los Angeles-area residents will take to the dance floor as part of the 5th annual Hollywood Dance Marathon, organized by Lights Camera Cure (LCC). From 1pm to 7pm at the Avalon Theater, dancers and friends will take part in a mini THON event to raise funds and awareness for Four Diamonds and the Mattel Children’s Hosptial at UCLA. Just like THON, dancers have been raising funds all year long to participate in this awesome event.
We spoke with Trevor Kress and Janet Markman, two members of the LCC Board of Directors, about the upcoming event. Kress handles communications and marketing while Markman tackles in-kind donations and dancer relations.
Kress looked back on his favorite memory thus far, as he’s been a part of the event since its inception. “It’s got to be when we broke $100,00 last year, “ he said, “To think this was just an idea in our minds five years ago to now being a six-figure event. We hit a major milestone last year that proved our event as the real deal.”
Markman added her sentiments about this major mark in saying “…it just felt absolutely amazing knowing that we are still going strong and truly are making a difference for the families battling pediatric and young adult cancer.”
In regards to this year’s marathon, there’s a ton to look forward to. Markman is in charge of putting together the robust silent auction (which will include mobile bidding this year so that those not in attendance can participate) which includes things like tickets to see Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen Degeneres to beach packages and sunglasses.
As the event takes place in the heart of Hollywood, local celebrities are welcome to walk the red carpet. In years past, famous faces like Lamorne Morris (famous for his role as Winston on FOX’s New Girl) and Ian Harding (AKA Ezra Fitz from Pretty Little Liars) have joined in on the fun. Oh, and remember Aaron Samuels? (Of course you do.) Jonathan Bennett of Mean Girls fame was one of LCC’s celebrity ambassadors in 2015. And don’t forget our favorite emcee – Devon Werkheiser, then Ned of Ned’s Declassified, now singer-songwriter, as well as son of Penn State alum/LCC Executive Director Gary Werkheiser – will be there to keep up the energy and motivation for dancers and attendees.
Of course our favorite VIPs are the ones who benefit from events like this. Why does Kress stay involved? “It’s for the kids,” he says, “They need a voice. They need our support. They need everything that we can give them to conquer this disease.”
Markman stays involved for a few different reasons. She was heavily involved in THON during her time at Penn State, so much so that she was inspired to continue her education to help the fight – this June, she’ll be finishing up her PhD in cancer research and translational medicine at Cedars Sinai Medical Center.
She added, “While at Penn State…I got to see so many families celebrating the end of treatment, but an even more sobering number of families just starting their fight, and even worse, those that lost the battle…When I found out about the Hollywood Dance Marathon started by some Penn State alumni, I just knew I had to be involved.”
There are still tickets available for the 5th annual Hollywood Dance Marathon, and anyone is welcome. The high-energy dance party event starts at 1pm on Saturday, April 2nd and ends at 7pm. Follow along with the fun on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube. For more information, check out their website by clicking here or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.