$13 million and counting

By on February 26, 2014

The Nittany Lion and dancers for Bryan’s organizations at THON 2014 (Pi Beta Phi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon) with her three children.

The Nittany Lion and dancers for Bryan’s organizations at THON 2014 (Pi Beta Phi and Sigma Alpha Epsilon) with her three children.

Cocalico gears up for Mini THON

On the heels of Penn State’s most successful THON to date, raising over $13 million this past weekend, students at Cocalico Middle School and High School are gearing up for their upcoming THON events.

Cocalico Middle School’s Mini THON will take place Feb. 28 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. while the High School’s THON takes place March 22 from 4 to 10 p.m. (moved due to snow dates).

Cocalico’s THONs are a spin-off of the Penn State 46-hour event, which raises money for the Four Diamonds Fund, a non-profit organization that provides financial support to families of children who are battling cancer at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

“It’s tremendous. It’s something that infiltrates the whole school,” said Superintendent Bruce Sensenig of the school’s THON fundraiser. “It connects teachers, kids and community for a good cause and exposes everybody to the reality of life and helping through difficult times.”

Alex Tomazian (left), a morale captain, and Bryan at this year’s THON during the final 4 hours.

Alex Tomazian (left), a morale captain, and Bryan at this year’s THON during the final 4 hours.

Last year, Cocalico Middle School raised over $25,000. This year, the THON crew is setting the bar even higher for its second annual event.

Everyone is invited to attend the event, which is held at the middle school gymnasium. Events for all ages include board games, a dance, a dodgeball tournament, a V.I.P room for the top donators, a movie room and more.

Teachers have also made some promises if students meet certain fundraising goals. Several teachers have agreed to serve students lunch in the cafeteria, sing karaoke over the morning announcements, and get pied in the face. One brave teacher even agreed to shave her eyebrows, and another agreed to allow a student to become his personal hair and beard groomer.

Cocalico High School welcomed 2002 graduate, cancer survivor, and Cocalico Mini THON founder, Crystal Bryan, to a THON kick-off assembly on Tuesday. Bryan, who was diagnosed with leukemia as a middle school student, took a few minutes to tell her story and talk about the importance of THON and the Four Diamonds Fund. Bryan’s first attendance at Penn State’s THON was in 1996. In 1999 in her sophomore year, she started the Mini THON at the high school, which at the time, was named the EAGLE-THON.

“I knew in my 8th grade year in 1998, when I finished chemo, that I wanted to do something to give back to the Four Diamonds Fund,” said Bryan. “I wanted nothing more than to spread awareness and start a Mini THON.” And so, Mini THON was born. To this day, it serves as one of the largest and most popular fundraisers for the district.

“There have been numerous Cocalico students that have fought cancer,” continued Bryan. “I hope that the future of the event grows in popularity because it has affected the area and the school. Many of the teachers at the high school now were teachers of mine or teachers that saw me in the hallways during my battle with leukemia. Cancer doesn’t discriminate on who it takes, it just attacks and there is a cure out there but awareness is key to us getting there. I know that Cocalico can be successful because the club running the Mini THON has passion for the cause and for the fight &tstr; that’s already success in my book.”

The Middle School THON will take place at the middle school, 650 S. Sixth St., Denver, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. All donations may be mailed to Cocalico Middle School in care of Kelly Shewmake with checks payable to Four Diamonds Fund. The high school THON takes place March 22 from 4 to 10 p.m. at the high school auditorium, 800 S. 4th St., Denver.

Lucy Riccomini is the Cocalico editor for The Ephrata Review. She welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at lriccomini.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4424

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