Diamonds up State High: Looking Back on Mini-THON 2022

Avery Bopp, Staff Writer

On the night of April 29, 2022, State High students swarmed the high school to begin the long night ahead of them at Mini-THON. This year’s theme was FTK (For The Kids) through the Milky Way. The night included space-themed games, activities, and surroundings, to make you feel as if you’re in the stars for the night.

Mini-THON, similar to THON at Penn State, is a club at State High whose goal is to raise money and awareness for Four Diamonds, an  non-profit organization for all things related to childhood cancer. The organization does fundraising and holds a 12 hour dance marathon event with no sitting allowed. 

Each person (also known as a dancer) attending the event overnight had to raise a minimum of 50 dollars and pay a 15 dollar registration fee to participate. The dancers were given goodie bags filled with Mini-THON items, and a lanyard sorting them at random into four teams that would compete against each other in various games and activities throughout the hours to come. Each team was named after one of the four diamonds of THON: strength, courage, wisdom, and honesty. 

Hour 1:

At 8 pm., the dancers were led through a tunnel and into the gym, where the leaders of the club introduced the event and the meaning of Mini-THON. After going over rules, there were two speeches from Four Diamonds families who were affected by childhood cancer. 

The first speech was in video form by the mother of Chayton Drapcho, a young boy with cancer. The second speech was from a State High student, Maggie Hegudus who also had cancer, but beat it and is now a survivor. 

The speeches were followed by a space-themed scavenger hunt around the gym and then learning the line dance.

The line dance, a THON tradition, is a series of movements and a chant recapping the time period when Mini-THON was being planned. It included references to entertainment, news, and local media. The line dance is performed at the top of every hour, encouraging all to put their diamonds to the sky. 

Hours 2 and 3:

The next two hours kicked off the fun with another space activity, aliens and astronauts (sharks and minnows), team kickball, and a game called tape a teacher, where volunteer teachers were stuck on the wall with duct tape. 

A special guest made his appearance: State High’s very own Rockwell. Rockwell is one of the security guards at the school who also explores music and rap. He gave the crowd a taste of his freestyling and hits by Eminem, which got people pumped up for the rest of the night. At the end of his performance, Rockwell threw two t-shirts into the crowd, ultimately resulting in a dance battle for the second shirt. 

Hours 4, 5, and 6:

Each hour began with the line dance, and then there was still more fun to be had. 

After the first line dance, a speaker named Kapri Uhrie shared her Mini-THON/THON story. Uhrie, a graduate of State High, had been a dancer and a support system for other dancers at PSU THON in previous years. Uhrie discussed dancer support, an important job because when a dancer has to stay awake and on their feet for 46 hours at THON, they need to be constantly taken care of and checked in on.

When Uhrie was finished, dancers put their game faces on for some friendly competition. Capture the flag and a dodgeball tournament were put on to entertain all, and then a human edition of Hungry Hungry Hippos. Dancers lay on scooters blindfolded, and teammates steered them to victory, guiding the hippos to balloons to “eat” with laundry basket “mouths”. 

There was also a pie eating contest. A member from each team was chosen and competed to eat a chocolate pie.

Another performance was due—seniors Clayton Kleinman and Alice Freije played guitar and serenaded the students. The pair performed classics from The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac.

Hours 7, 8, and 9:

Line dance after line dance, dancers pushed through to the second half of the event, still no sitting allowed. 

Hour seven started off sweet with “planet pop,” an outer space version of piñata hitting, and the grab began as the candy spilled out. Next, there was a more messy match: the egg toss. Partner pairs threw eggs across the gym and got eliminated when their egg hit the ground or broke. These hours seemed to be full of clean up, as in the next game, teams competed to pop the most balloons the fastest. 

The end of hour nine was much calmer; dancers had the opportunity to make cards and write notes to Four Diamonds families and children. They will be delivered to the children’s hospital in Hershey. 

Hours 10 and 11:

After nine hours of standing, line dancing, and partying, dancers began to get tired, so it was important to motivate them. 

There was nothing planned for hour 10 except for rave hour. Lights went out as glowsticks cracked and music was turned up.  

People danced, or tried to keep dancing all the way until 6 a.m., when one of the iconic THON events started.

In support of children losing their hair to chemotherapy, THON always incorporates hair cutting into their schedules. Whether it be people with long hair cutting off lengths to make wigs or those with shorter hair simply shaving their heads with sympathy to those who have lost it, there were multiple volunteers to shave or cut their hair that morning, including Katie McWhirter, Alexa Adams, Mirabella Bills, Maggie Hegedus, and Peter Corby.

Hour 12:

The last hour was bittersweet. Dancers were excited to be done but reflected on the time they had spent there that night and why Mini-THON does what it does. 

Speaker Chloe Bevilaqua shared her own story with the audience. Similar to Uhrie, Bevilaqua was also a dancer/dancer support at PSU THON in previous years and a graduate of State High. 

The last 45 minutes consisted of a story about a boy throwing starfish back into the ocean. An old man asked the boy why he continued to spend his time helping them, when there were so many more that he wasn’t helping. The story was a metaphor about Mini-THON, and how the funds could never reach every child affected but made the biggest difference to the children it could reach.

A silent walk was taken through a hallway, floors lined with luminary bags, honoring those who are currently fighting, those who have won, and those who have lost their battles to cancer. When the line led dancers back into the gym, everyone gathered in a circle while a song called “Angels Among Us” by Alabama played.

Many tears were shed, from the dancers, the organizers, and parents who arrived early. The leaders of the club each took the mic and talked about their years of THON and how much attending meant to them. This year, more than 95 people participated, which is more than double any other year’s list. 

With more attendees, 2022 Mini-THON was able to raise much more money than they expected. The leaders flipped over their cards to reveal the grand total: $24,764.07. This amount was approximately 10,000 dollars over the original goal.

Gathering around the big screen, the crowd got to watch a recap of the night that was videoed and edited by State High student and photographer Jacob Will, who had volunteered his Friday night to cover THON. The video captured all of the best moments of the night and was a great ending to the twelve hours.