Middle school hosts inaugural miniTHON

By on April 25, 2012

By: TIFFANY WOODALL Review Staff twoodall.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

Members of the Ephrata Middle School miniTHON planning committee pose alongside The Four Diamonds Fund logo. Shown left to right are Larry Rupp, Deanna Rupp, Kevin Rupp, Lexi Rupp, Mason Hornberger, Vicki Socie, Johanna Hoffer, Pamela Sola and Jessica Gordon. (Photo by Stephanie Gingrich)

"Standin’ for Brandon" and "Fightin’ for Felicia" are slogans to be seen on Ephrata Middle School students’ purple t-shirts this Saturday commemorating the lives of former students who passed away after battling pediatric cancer.

Lancaster County’s first middle-school-only miniTHON will have students standing from 6 to 10 p.m. to celebrate four months of fundraising for The Four Diamonds Fund at Hershey Children’s Hospital.

"I know that every dollar I raise can help a child with cancer," said Larry Rupp, a member of the miniTHON planning committee whose older sister passed away from cancer as a Four Diamonds Child.

"We don’t wish anyone else to have to go through what we did," said Larry’s mother, Deanna Rupp, who also works with her husband, Kevin, as an inclusion aide at the middle school.

Kevin and Deanna Rupp have been interested in launching a miniTHON since their daughter’s death, but it wasn’t until this year when Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Vicki Socie joined the movement that a plan was put into place.

Socie became excited about organizing a miniTHON after visiting her son, who danced at the 2011 Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON) in State College, said Deanna. A proposal was submitted to Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education Dr. Brian Troop, and with his approval, the wheels of the middle school’s inaugural miniTHON began to turn.

Socie organized a kick-off assembly to encourage students to participate, and soon 150 students were registered for the event. To get students excited about raising money, seventh and eighth grade students split into six teams. The challenge? Raise the most money. The reward? Slime a teacher. Winning teams from each grade will get to slime (Nickelodean style) their representative teacher. As a bonus, students will have the privilege of sliming their principal, Gangi Cucciuffo, too.

In addition to the team fundraising challenge, students have "canned" during lunch periods as well, raising $36 in the first week, said Deanna. Attempting to mimic THON’s moralers (peppy students who provide ongoing support and encouragement to dancers), this week was spirit week. Students wore crazy socks Monday, said Deanna.

"We want to be as most like THON as we can," said Kevin. He and his family have attended several miniTHONs, and some of them are very different than Penn State’s THON, he said.

Preparation for the event started in January, enlisting student participants and gaining community support.

"Considering the economic times, I think they’ve been very generous," said Deanna of local businesses and organizations who have donated food, gift certificates and raffle items. "We have plenty now, but we would always like to build on what we got," she said.

"They’re a week away at this point and they’re already thinking about next year," said Stephanie Gingrich, director of community relations at the school district. Students and faculty collaborated to organize the event, but ideally student council will take the reigns; miniTHON is the official charity of Pennsylvania Student Councils, said Kevin.

Some might wonder why students would willingly spend four hours at school on a weekend. Well, the miniTHON committee has some fun activities in store, including "minute to win it" games involving no-hands-allowed Jell-O eating and sliding an oreo from nose to mouth, hands free. The event will also feature music and, of course, slimy teachers.

"Once we get to miniTHON, it’s really going to hit me hard, like, what I did to help," said Mason Hornberger, eighth grade miniTHON co-chair. It will be an emotional, rewarding event, she said.

Efforts by students and faculty in planning and executing the miniTHON will be summed up in one check: a donation to The Four Diamonds Fund.

"Our goal to start was that every single dollar they raise goes to Four Diamonds," said Kevin. "We do the best we can and build from here." More THON, page A16

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