On Centre: Bellefonte Area | Marion-Walker Mini-Thon raises more than $8,000 to fight pediatric cancer

The Four Diamonds Fund has been instrumental in helping nine-year-old Noah Benner’s family, and this year the family made sure to give back.

The family helped organize the inaugural Marion-Walker Elementary School Mini-Thon, which raised more than $8,000 to help children with cancer, at the school in Hublersburg. The event is an off-shoot of the annual IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, which has raised more than $114 million since 1973.

“We wanted to have a way to give back to the Four Diamonds Fund and we thought the easiest way was to participate in and organize a Mini-Thon,” Noah’s father, Craig Benner, said.

Noah had surgeries to remove a brain tumor in his late first-grade and early second-grade years. He was excited to get another chance to have some more Thon fun during the year, Benner said.

The school district, which had already been kicking around the idea of holding the event, jumped at the chance, Principal Sharlene Yontosh said.

With the help of the Benner family, guidance counselor Amy Sclight and other faculty members, the team organized several fundraising events — including a bowl-a-thon at Bellefonte Lanes, a cut-a-thon at Mane-Ly Hair in Zion, a Christmas gift wrapping at Barnes and Noble, an ice cream event at Coldstone Creamery and a fundraiser at Northwest Savings Bank.

It was a great chance to get the youngsters involved in a charitable effort and give them a fun afternoon of dancing and games. The $8,050.42 total was announced April 11, but that number has since jumped to $8,291.42 after the school collected more donations.

Sclight said there was an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the pupils when the total was announced. Many cheered and some even cried over the accomplishment.

The school has roughly 360 pupils.

Both Sclight and Yontosh said they plan to make this an annual event for the school, but Benner has even bigger aspirations.

Benner said he wants the entire school district to participate in Mini-Thons across the area schools. Bellefonte Elementary already has a Mini-Thon, which is scheduled for Friday.

In total, more than 100 schools across the country hold Mini-Thon events and have raised more than $10 million to date, according to the Thon website.