Just three years ago, Carrie Little was participating as a dancer and overall event committee captain at the State College Area School District’s Mini-Thon.
Now, the State High junior helps organize the alumni committee, which recruits former participants to partake in the annual event.
“It’s different because now I’m like the mom wrangling up students to help and get things ready,” Little said. “It was a lot of fun when I was here (at Park Forest Middle School) as a student, and now it’s just being a part of it from a different perspective.”
State College Mini-Thon kicked off Friday night at Park Forest Middle School with a recognition ceremony and dance practice before students from four Centre Region middle schools hit the dance floor for a few hours of fun.
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The seven-hour Mini-Thon is modeled after the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, which annually raises money for the Four Diamonds fund at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The fund financially helps families of children diagnosed with cancer.
Since its inception about nine years ago, State College Mini-Thon has raised about $326,000. Last year, $60,115.72 was raised through fundraising efforts, according to a release from a Penn State student and event spokeswoman Leah Isenberg.
“We’ve done a lot of fundraising as a school and on our own,” Mount Nittany Middle School seventh-grader Leah Moyer said.
Through canning and soliciting for donations from family members, Leah said she raised about $2,000 herself.
But the event isn’t just for State College middle schools.
For the first time, middle school students from Our Lady of Victory Catholic School were invited to participate.
“When we heard we could come, it was really cool,” OLV sixth-grader Aleah Von Blohn said. “Even though this isn’t as big as the Thon at Penn State, it’s still a small step toward a big (initiative).”
When the event started, it was just called Park Forest Middle School Mini-Thon. A few years ago, the name was changed to include the district as a whole, with the addition of Mount Nittany Middle School.
Last year, the State College Delta Program Middle School was also added.
“It’s a big deal,” Aleah said. “I do this because my neighbor and friend had leukemia for a long time, but now he’s cancer free.”