Posts tagged ‘THON’
You may know the legend of King Arthur, but chances are you do not know the story of Sir Millard, the evils he faced or the battles he won, even though every year, the new-age knights he has inspired take up his quest to battle pediatric cancer.
Every year, those champions, in the form of 15,000 Penn State student volunteers, fight their battle via year-long fundraising that culminates in THON weekend at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania. This weekend marks the forty-first annual THON dance marathon.
Sir Millard, a.k.a. Christopher Millard, penned his story called “The Four Diamonds” before he died of cancer at the age of 14 in 1972. He had no way of knowing the legacy he would leave behind.
The day he died at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, his parents, Charles and Irma Millard, started the Four Diamonds Fund to raise money to assist pediatric cancer patients and their families with expenses outside those insurance will cover while their children are undergoing treatment.
THON weekend is a celebration of the efforts of the volunteers–joined by their fellow students, Four Diamonds Families, and their many supporters–who dedicate their time to raising money and increasing awareness for pediatric cancer.
It is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, raising $89 million to date, more than $10 million last year alone. Participants hope to surpass $100 million with this year’s total, which exclusively benefits the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. (more…)
It all started with a call to arms—conquer childhood cancer—that hasn’t changed for forty years. When the Four Diamonds Fund first appeared in 1972, there was little chance for a cure and treatment choices were limited. Since its inception, however, Four Diamonds has provided more than 3,200 children and their families touched by cancer the means to fight back.
From Despair to Hope
The vision for the Four Diamonds Fund began during the darkest days of Charles and Irma Millard’s life. In 1970, the couple was visiting Children’s Hospital Boston with their beloved 12-year-old son, Chris, who was being treated for rhabdomyosarcoma of the nasopharynx. There, the Millards discovered the Jimmy Fund, a program that covered all out-of-pocket medical costs for children receiving therapy for cancer at the hospital. “That’s where we came up with the idea to start a fund that would benefit families in central Pennsylvania,” Charles Millard says. “In 1972, on the day Chris died at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, we initiated the Fund.”
For the couple, then living in Elizabethtown, their main goal was to relieve the financial burden that other young families may face during their battle with cancer, while providing support for the best medical care available. “In the first five years, it was slow moving, but we continued to do fundraisers,” Millard says. “We felt really thankful that we had the opportunity to take this negative experience in our lives—the loss of our son—and turn it into something so positive.”
A Place of Healing and Caring
The mission of the Four Diamonds Fund is to conquer childhood cancer by assisting children treated at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital and their families by funding superior care, comprehensive support, and pediatric cancer research.
Over the years, the organization has expanded its ability to take care of these desperately ill children. Today, a world-class team of professionals provide comprehensive medical care—including pediatric oncologists, nurse specialists, social workers and child life specialists. Some 100 new patient families benefit from Four Diamonds each year. That support includes getting the cost of all uncovered medical bills paid.
“Drawing on these resources, we are able to provide a level of cancer care, second to none,” says A. Craig Hillemeier, M.D., chair, Department of Pediatrics, at the Children’s Hospital. “If you are treating a child with cancer, you are really treating the whole family, and because of the Four Diamonds Fund, we are able to give a much more complete response to the terrible reality that the child and family experience.”
Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital has once again earned a ranking among the nation’s best children’s hospitals in multiple specialties by U.S. News and World Report. This year, the Children’s Hospital is ranked in orthopaedics (for the second straight year), cancer, and diabetes and endocrinology.
This news serves to affirm for members of the Penn State Hershey community both the quality of the care and the quality of the caring that happens at our Children’s Hospital every day. The daily commitment so many people make to provide vital services to the children and families of our community is what makes recognition like this possible.
This honor belongs to each person involved with the care of our pediatric patients and families — our faculty and staff, our students, our volunteers, our friends, and our supporters.
On behalf of the children and families we serve, thank you and congratulations to all who have made it possible.
In this episode of “Medicine in Blue and White”:
- The incredible connection between one fourteen year old boy — and the thousands of people he has helped over the past forty years.
- Combining aerospace engineering and medical technology to help improve health care in developing countries.
- Never-before-seen-behavior under the microscope that could lead to a cure for some of the most challenging diseases we face.
- And a new way to test for what is — literally — an age-old problem.
The 2011 proceeds from THON—the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon—once again topped a previous record and raised a staggering $9.56 million to benefit The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The 46-hour event that ran from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon is the culmination of a yearlong fundraising effort by thousands of Penn State students at campuses across the state.
Some other THON numbers that are equally as impressive as the final tally:
- 708 students were selected as dancers.
- 11 bands provided entertainment to help sustain the dancers’ energy throughout the weekend.
- 240 families supported by The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital participated in THON weekend.
- 10,409 THON donation cans were distributed throughout the year.
Here is a sampling of photos from the weekend event that helps Children’s Hospital faculty and staff meet their daily mission of providing top-notch, comprehensive care to children and their families and finding tomorrow’s cures for pediatric cancers.
Slide show photos were contributed by faculty, staff, students, Penn State friends, and Four Diamonds families, including: Michael Verderame, Andrea Horne, Savannah Smith, Jackie Miller, Judy Hoch, Conrad Gast, Jeffrey Drexel, Celeste Negley, Cheryl Kretz, Lauren Lubus, Beth Garrigan, Matt, Steph, and Lindsay Smith, Shayne Beecher, Debbie Eslinger, Darik Kirschman, Tammy Cope, Rachel Pantalone, Sharon Otstott, Kim Keim, Cunningham, The Bush family, Steph Beyer, Connie Strayer, Chrissy Derr, Anne Morrow, Laura Trimble and Kathy Setlock.
Additional photos from throughout the weekend are available at http://live.psu.edu. For photos from Friday, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2431; from Saturday, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2433 and from Sunday visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2434. Collected photos from throughout the weekend can be found at http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2432.