State High Joined the 2024 Mini-Thon Journey

Students of all grades engaging in Mini-Thon dances (Noah Demo)
Students of all grades engaging in Mini-Thon dances (Noah Demo)

On April 5, State High hosted its annual Mini-Thon, where 176 students from all grades danced from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. to raise money for Four Diamonds, an organization dedicated to fighting pediatric cancer. 

The first thing noticed walking into the gym was a sea of students in purple tees encouraging all to “Join the Journey,”–the 2024 event title for the State High Mini-thon. On the walls, banners from Four Diamonds displayed not only why State High showed up – “Conquering Childhood Cancer” – but also advice for the night: “Strength: Isn’t a Lack of Falling. It’s Getting Back Up When You Want to Quit.” In addition, the stage, music, and dancing games ruled the night, with basketballs, volleyballs, dodgeballs, and footballs flying for most of the evening.  

The event kicked off with words from Sophie Restall, a State High alum impacted by Mini-Thon. She finished speaking just as the time to commence dancing began. Programming for the night included epic line dancing (one summarized the past year in sports, culture, and news), live bands, Tug of War and Hungry Hungry Hippos, haircuts for a cause, and taping the teachers to the wall to find out which students could get them out the quickest. 

The event was particularly important for State High senior Gabriella Fuller, the glue holding the event together as the Mini-Thon Executive Director. 

Fuller’s involvement in Mini-Thon started relatively early in her high school career, and she stuck with it from then on.

“I got involved sophomore year. I went to their first club meeting and immediately liked the positive vibes,” Fuller said. “Everyone seemed super friendly, so I wanted to find better ways to get involved. So I became really committed to it because I always looked forward to going to club meetings because everyone was so nice. I liked having control as an officer, so it became something I looked forward to each week.” 

Freshman Natalie Shelley echoed a similar sentiment. “My siblings were involved with Mini-Thon at their high school, so I always knew that I wanted to do it. The meetings are really fun, and there’s a bunch of committees that you can join. I’m on the entertainment committee, so we pretty much work on the timeline of the event and everything that happens during the event.” 

The process of organizing a Mini-Thon is elaborate and collaborative, as alluded to by Fuller and Shelley. 

“We have ten committee directors each year, and two for each committee. There’s me and my intern, Lauren Marshall, who’s training to do my job next year, and our advisor, Ms. Kling. So, all of us work together to prepare for the event and to help dancers throughout the night. Our two entertainment officers are Jacob and Rowan, who stay up all night programming everything,” Fuller said.  

Fuller mentioned how she was particularly excited with the line dance. “Honestly, I’m really looking forward to the line dance. Jacob and Rowan have been constructing it all year with Lauren’s help. I’ve seen the work and effort they put into it, and they have some really funny lines. So I’m excited to see that and participate in it,” Fuller said. “I’m also really excited to do some of the games. I love watching the dodgeball tournament, and I was really excited when they announced Hungry Hungry Hippos was back since we couldn’t do it last year.” 

Fuller was excited to see “how hyped-up the dancer get” because an underlying motive, her “personal mission,” was “to make people excited to do something for a non-profit organization.” 

For Shelley, the line dances were when she felt “most energized” but being on the floor could be “overwhelming” with so many dancers.

“It was fine as long as you stayed up towards the front; that didn’t feel too crowded. But in the back, there were a bunch of people playing basketball and football. So you need to be aware of your surroundings,” Shelley said.  

Finally, Shelley has some advice for future Mini-Thon members, especially with the last few hours in mind.

“Just keep going. It’s gonna get really harder on the 2:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m. mark, but if you just push through, the outcome is so much better than you could ever imagine,” Shelley said. “I felt that like once we hit the end, I just felt that we were so close to seeing what all we’ve done was for that. It was really easy to keep going.”

In an email, Kierra Draphco, a mother whose family was helped by Four Diamonds, reflected on the power of what State High accomplishes with the fundraiser.

“High school mini-Thons are a great way for students to get involved in something that makes a difference in the lives of families like ours. The money you raise not only helps to cover medical bills, but it also funds critical research for pediatric cancer. We have personally witnessed the importance of research and the need for advanced treatment options as our son was on a chemotherapy that was still in clinical trial. He is now in remission and almost two years off of treatment. Every contribution to the THON mission is important, valued, and all FTK!”

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