Penn State World Campus will have two of its online learners participating as dancers in THON™ when the annual Penn State student-run event takes place from February 16 to 18.
Erica Armstrong is an undergraduate World Campus psychology student who will make the trip from her home in Saskatchewan, Canada, to the University Park campus to participate in the 46-hour dance marathon at the Bryce Jordan Center. Danielle Ray, an online MBA student from Hershey, Pennsylvania, will be the oldest dancer at this year’s event, at age 50.
Each year, Penn State students raise money for children and families impacted by childhood cancer, and the donations go to the Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. The students’ philanthropic efforts culminate in THON, when the student dancers must be on their feet for 46 hours straight while being cheered on by their peers and other supporters in the stands. Hundreds of Penn State students are dancers each year, and this is the second year that Penn State World Campus will have dancers participating.
“I am super excited to be dancing at THON,” said Armstrong, who is 36. “It’s such a good cause. I know how hard it is for a family with a loved one who is battling cancer. I can’t imagine when it’s a child.”
Armstrong said she became interested in participating in THON after she learned about its cause and who benefits from its philanthropy. She noted that she lost her father to mesothelioma.
Ray is excited to share the experience with her fellow students and family and friends, some of whom she expects to attend in person and watch online via the THON livestream. As one of the first dancers for Penn State World Campus last year, she knows what to expect and is looking forward to returning to the dance floor.
"I have a way to treasure this differently this year,” said Ray, who will graduate with her MBA in May. “I can go into it with a different mindset, knowing it’s possible.”
Armstrong’s and Ray’s participation as dancers is possible because of the efforts of student-run organization Penn State World Campus Benefitting THON. The group raised more than $6,000 last year to secure spots for dancers this year.
Penn State World Campus Student Affairs provides support and guidance to the THON group and more than a dozen other student clubs and organizations.
“We are excited to see Danielle and Erica join their fellow Penn State students dancing at THON,” said Marly Doty, the director of World Campus Student Affairs. “They will bring such a diversity of life experience when they take the floor with their peers. We wish them the best as they prepare themselves for this feat on their feet.”
Penn State World Campus offers a Penn State education online, with a comprehensive portfolio of more than 175 degree and certificate programs. Students who attend Penn State through World Campus have access to a wide variety of student support services and resources and can attend major University events — such as THON, Homecoming, and graduation — in person.
Learn more about the student clubs and organizations available to students on the Penn State World Campus Student Center.