Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon announced Friday that all out-of-town fundraising that requires travel is canceled for the rest of Thon 2019.
Kelly McCready, Thon’s executive director, said in a letter to the Thon community that there have been three separate car crashes in the past month involving Thon volunteers.
In 2016, Thon decided to phase out canning trips — Thon volunteers would travel to other towns to solicit donations at intersections or outside of stores/restaurants — “for the dual purpose of keeping our volunteers safe and encouraging more sustainable forms of fundraising,” McCready said.
Two students have died while traveling to or from canning trips since 2011. Courtney O’Bryan, of Huntington, New York, died in December 2011 after the vehicle she was in hit black ice and flipped over. In September 2015, Vitalya “Tally” Sepot, of Branford, Connecticut, was killed in a single-vehicle crash on the way back from a canning trip.
“Many members of the community and university believed that the phase out of canning would eliminate the travel and risk for student volunteers. While the overall risk to students was reduced, there remained permissible fundraising methods, such as canvassing and alternative fundraisers, that involved traveling,” McCready said. (Canvassing involves door-to-door solicitation.)
But the recent car crashes renewed “the same concern,” she said, leading Thon and the university to make the decision to cancel all fundraising that requires travel.
She said the safety of the volunteers is Thon’s top priority.
“We recognize that the cancellation of travel for fundraising will raise concerns for student organizations with respect to their fundraising efforts,” McCready said. “We value each of our student volunteers and their dedication to the fight against childhood cancer. Providing support and spreading awareness for families impacted by childhood cancer will continue to remain at the core of Thon’s mission as we undergo these changes.”
Thon 2019 is slated for Feb. 15-17 at the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State’s campus.