On most days, Jeff Tranell is a sixth-grade teacher at Park Forest Middle School.
He’s also the Communications Club and TV production adviser.
But on Saturday morning, he turned into a DJ.
It was all to help pump up the crowd at the “Kids in Candy Land” pancake and ice cream social at Mount Nittany Elementary School to raise funds for State College Mini-Thon.
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The event included a lot of dancing and pancakes made by members of the Kiwanis Club.
Mini-Thon is exactly what it sounds like — a smaller version of Penn State’s IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon — but spearheaded by the three middle schools in the State College Area School District.
Participating schools include Mount Nittany and Park Forest Middle Schools and the Delta Program’s middle school.
The goal, like Penn State’s Thon, is to raise money for the Four Diamonds fund, which helps families affected by childhood cancer.
The other mission is to raise awareness about the disease among youth.
“It’s a school tradition,” Mount Nittany seventh-grader Caroline Simon said. “It’s a cool and neat experience, and not just one for college students who get access to that atmosphere, but we have it too and do it for the same reasons.”
Classmate Kate Lundy said it’s also a big boost in “character building.”
“You learn a lot about yourself and the kind of person you can be by giving back,” she said.
Mini-Thon volunteer coordinator Nanci Rommel said middle school students who participate in Mini-Thon help in the organization process by setting up fundraisers throughout the year before the event takes place in the spring.
Other fundraisers include bake sales, canning at the Mount Nittany-Park Forest football game and more.
For the next couple weeks, students will also be raising money by wrapping gifts for customers at Barnes & Noble.
Seventh-grade-student Leah Moyer, whose family owns Lions Pride in downtown State College, said students will also be wrapping gifts and collecting donations for Mini-Thon at her parents’ store.
State College Mini-Thon has raised more than $300,000 in eight years, a report from the district said.
The 2017 Mini-Thon will be held at 5 p.m. April 29 and last until midnight at Park Forest Middle School.