PSU students still battle shadow of Sandusky’s actions

Published Feb 19, 2014 at 5:11 am (Updated Feb 17, 2014 at 11:26 am)

There was a knock at her door, and when she opened it, an Upper St. Clair woman listened to students ask for a donation for pediatric cancer. Her question to them: “Are you from Penn State?” “Yes,” they reply, and her answer is, “Absolutely, not!” and shuts the door on them.

Young people who had nothing to do with Jerry Sandusky – who are raising money to eradicate pediatric cancer as part of the largest student run philanthropy in the world – should not be subjected to this from an adult.

Sadly, the abuse they’ve endured since 2011 includes things being thrown at them from car windows, abusive language, and more.

Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad!

They still stand and dance merrily on the street corners “canning” and ringing the door bells – happy to talk about what THON is and grateful for the generosity of family, friends, Penn State alumni and strangers who have no connection to Penn State – donating because they see what these kids are learning about leading a life based on giving. Especially touching are all the children they meet who greet them with quarters in hand.

My daughter’s organization, ATLAS – one of 968 Penn State groups that raises money for THON – raised about $80,000 a weekend canning this year. They span out in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

In addition to the canning weekends, the students send “THONvelopes” to family and friends. This is the where the largest amount of money is raised.

As I’ve mentioned, students also go door-to-door. And even with people being rude or saying no or not answering doors (something I’ve NEVER done to USC teams and kids selling things) each group, in ATLAS, at least, collects a nice amount of money for the cause.

They have fundraisers on all Penn State campuses – trivia nights, sports tournaments, bake sales, and many more things that students put their own money into – with proceeds going to THON.

So this is how they raise money, but there is so much more to THON and what these kids contribute to the lives of their THON families! You should delve deeper into it via the THON website at – it’s a truly inspirational story.

THON is Feb. 21-23 this year. The “dancers” are on their feet for 46 hours and their fellow students fill Bryce Jordan Arena – dancing, singing, laughing, crying, cheering alongside them until the final tally of how much money has been raised is given at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. THON can be seen via live stream (link at You won’t find a more emotion-packed 46 hours.

ATLAS’ Facebook page is featuring “Why they THON.” The common thread is that they do it for LOVE! To honor those who have passed, those who have survived and to acknowledge what families dealing with this devastating illness are dealing with and to provide them with a bit of joy. To enable these kids to be kids and forget about what they are living through right now. As many of you are aware, money goes to families dealing with pediatric cancer as patients at Hershey Medical Center. However, the bulk of the money raised goes to pediatric cancer research and the end goal of what these students do year after year is to raise enough money to cure pediatric cancer!

What could ANYONE possibly object to about THON! The students do it “For the Kids!”

Carla Roehner

Upper St. Clair

PSU students still battle shadow of Sandusky’s actions

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