Anticipating the historical importance of the approaching 25th Anniversary of THON; Dave Dapko and Cathy Hales McClain petitioned for the creation of a THON alumni group called the Silver Shoes Committee. They were joined in their campaign by Brian Ray and Christine Madden Papadopoulos. The idea behind the group’s formation was to focus on getting alumni back together to relive their THON moments. Many didn’t want to simply let THON go when they departed from Happy Valley, so they sought out a way for all alumni to remain engaged in one of the most influential events of their lives and thus the birth of the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group.
It was in this first year that this handful of individuals set ahead of them four goals to accomplish: 1) Establish an alumni organization; 2) Hold a black tie event; 3) Establish the Rick Funk Scholarship; and 4) Produce the written history of the first 25 years of THON. Although they were low in numbers, this group forged ahead to achieve these goals that they set out for themselves. The first major success was the black tie event commemorating THON’s 25 year history. Past overalls were invited from every year and they showed up in numbers, as well as many former dancers and family members. This was a wonderfully successful event that was also attended by The Four Diamonds founders, Charles and Irma Millard, and Penn State University President at the time, Graham Spanier.
In the following years, the Dance Marathon AIG began to take shape with the aid of the University as a way to capitalize on alumni enthusiasm surrounding THON. The group, which now was an official AIG, began to establish bi–laws and sought to endow its undergraduate student scholarship, named after the former THON Advisor Rick Funk. Much of the organization’s time in the earlier years was occupied with fundraising to support the scholarship’s fund.
THON 2007 DMAIG DANCERS
As the Dance Marathon AIG began to develop more it was able to institute an alumni couple to represent the various years of THON alumni on the floor for the full two days. With the alumni couple and the addition of the alumni hour, the Dance Marathon AIG took some early steps forward in making THON weekend more attractive for alumni to participate in. Outside of THON Weekend, the Dance Marathon AIG has assisted alumni in hosting fundraising events all over the country to continue to give our alumni and other THON supporters an opportunity to gather together and to raise funds for THON and The Four Diamonds. As the Dance Marathon Alumni Interest Group continues to follow the basic ideals of the founders it also seeks out new ways to expand and grow to best benefit our membership and the world’s largest student run philanthropy in the world.
- Cathy Hales McClain
- Christine Madden Papadopoulos
- David Dapko
- Jill Harris Helmer
- Rick Funk
- Jeff Krisciunas
- Stacy Bingler Forbes
- Conor Moran
- Ashley Waters
- Jeff Reyes (Current)
AWARDS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
- 2003: Alumni Interest Group Achievement Award
- 2004: Communications Award
- 2004: Scholarship and Fundraising Award
- 2004-2005: *Featured in “Catalogue for Philanthropy”
- 2005: Joint Activity (formerly known as PRIDE) with the DMAIG, Lion Ambassador AIG, Metro Washington Chapter
- 2006: Joint Activity with the DMAIG and Philadelphia Chapter for starting up the Liberty Ball
- 2006-2007: *Featured in Community Foundation of the National Capital Area’s “Spirit of Giving Guide”
- 2007: New/Innovative Event or Program for assisting in the creation of the THON Express
- 2008: Communications Award for the DMAIG Website Redesign
- 2009: Joint Activity with the DMAIG, NYC and Northern NJ Chapters for hosting the inaugural Hope Gala
- 2014: Young Alumni Involvement Award for THON Weekend Alumni Reception
*Awards & Acknowledgements not received from the Penn State Alumni Association through the Annual Affiliate Group Awards