What is Hope Express?
The Hope Express is a 135-mile run that was created with the intention of bridging the gap between the families on the 7th floor at the Hershey Medical Center and the Dancers at THON – all for the same cause, to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund. The Hope Express team begins with a celebration for the families on Marathon Avenue, and ends at the Bryce Jordan Center to help kick off THON weekend. This team consists of THON alumni and Four Diamond families and they have to endure the cold, harsh, winter weather of a very cold night in February. And everyone knows that they are doing this For the Kids, to honor them in their courageous battle against childhood cancer.
Message from Hope Express Co-Founder, Hank Angus
It has been over four years since the beginning of Hope Express (formerly THON Express.) Much has happened during those four years. On a personal level, our son Gabriel is a growing sassy 10 year old who is now a “little man,” as we call him. He is wise beyond his years as are most of the Four Diamonds Kids. Our other two daughters are full of life and Sydney started the first grade this fall. Connie and I are older hopefully a little wiser and as my runners will attest-slower.
One of the goals for the Hope Express over the years is to mirror what all of you have accomplished at THON every year. During one of our runs we had a contest to try to describe THON in as few words as possible while still giving it justice. We found it difficult if not impossible. Every year after our runners complete their 135 quest to THON, they simply cannot put into words how they feel.
They talk a lot about how they felt in any given moment and what happened during those 24 hours, but the listeners just can not come away with the same feelings as the runners experienced. With the fifth annual run to the BJC coming up in Feb. somehow we do feel like we have achieved part of our goal to be more like THON.
Of course all of this would not have been possible without DMAIG. When I started working on this crazy idea with my wife I did not even know DMAIG existed. I was simply trying to find an RV for the runners to reside for those 24 hours. I called two different Penn State alumni groups with the second telling me about all of you. I guess the rest is history, but every year we get our runners and volunteers from DMAIG. Just like the undergrads have pumped life into THON and the FDF so have all of you into our little run---thanks doesn’t seem enough!
All of this started with two parents trying in some small way to give back to those who helped them when they needed it the most. It has become so much more than that. Within the very first year we realized that this run, this crazy totally insane idea was what all of you have been craving for a long time.
Many of you spent part, if not all of your careers at PSU being involved with THON. For many of you, it was a life changing event. Joepa I think was sincere when he said that THON is what Penn State is all about. It is unique and has become iconic in every sense of the word. You all gained much more than you gave and as a Four Diamonds Parent, seeing the other side, it took us awhile, “to get it.”
We get it now! Now, every year we do back flips trying to insure that all of our runners not only enjoy the event, but come away with the feeling that they were again a big part of THON. The greatest compliment we have been given is that the Hope Express is just like THON. I think that says it all. Thanks DMAIG for making one old man’s dream come true.
135 miles in 24 hours FTK,
Hank Angus-co founder Hope Express