EXETER — Anthony Macario experienced THON when he was a Penn State University student, and now he’s bringing the experience to Wyoming Area Secondary Center.
The high school English teacher, along with social studies teacher Ashley Aritz, have organized a student-committee to put together a THON of their own called “WA March Madness: Dancing For a Cure” that will be held at the school in spring.
The tentative date is Saturday, March 18.
Penn State University’s THON lasts two days, but Macario said this one will not be as intense.
“It’s a condensed version of the version of THON that Penn State runs,” he said. “It’s orchestrated through Four Diamonds and the purpose is still the exact same, which is to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer research. Rather than be a 46-hour event like what Penn State does, ours will be 12 hours.”
According to its website, Four Diamonds was started in 1972 by Charles and Irma Milliard in honor of their son, Christopher, who died at the age of 14 to cancer.
Since its creation, Four Diamonds has helped more than 3,700 children and families and supported a diverse platform of childhood cancer research.
Instead of being a giant dancing event, Macario said there will be some dancing but there will also be basket raffles, games and other things for participants to enjoy.
He noted no hours have been set as they want to have a time slot in which all students from the Wyoming Area School District can be involved. One idea is to have an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. time slot.
The students on the committee consists of 11 students in grades 7, 8, 9 and 12 whom Aritz said she and Macario approached about the THON.
“It’s tough because there were a lot of kids to choose from,” Aritz said. “We were kind of looking for kids that are motivated, dedicated, do well in school, are active in sports and just all around responsible kids we knew we could trust.”
One student involved is senior Mike Bonita, 17. His cousin, the late Eric Speicher, passed away from brain cancer in 2013.
Not only will proceeds benefit Four Diamonds, but they will also go towards Little Eric’s Foundation.
“I come from a family where I know the effects of cancer because of my cousin who died of it when he was 14,” said Bonita. “It’s good to see everyone giving back to it.”
Luke Coolbaugh, 14, said the biggest challenge will be spreading the word.
“Getting the message out to our classmates is pretty much the biggest part,” said the ninth grade student. “(We’re doing) everything that we possible can to get the most people; so social media and just going around and telling friends, fliers and everything we can do.”
Eighth grade student Maria Amato, 14, said students are looking outside the school for help as well.
“We’re making a list of restaurants around the area that we want to ask for sponsorships,” she said. “We’re just trying to organize it right now.”
While the event is several months away, students are working hard to prepare.
Coolbaugh said he’s looking forward to everyone having a good time for a good cause.
“I’m looking forward to the looks on kids’ faces when they’re having such a great time and their minds are off cancer,” he said.