Wyoming Area’s Mini THON raises $31,500 for pediatric cancer research

By Gene Axton - For Sunday Dispatch
Wyoming Area seniors and Mini THON committee members Julia Kopetchny, left, and Addison Orzel decorate the hallway before students arrive May 12. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Sixth-grader Dominic Donati is focused while playing Kan Jam during Mini THON at Wyoming Area. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Jake Switter, 10th grade, battles it out playing air hockey. - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Sophia Farrell, left, and Hannah Zakseski, both fourth-graders, have a friendly game of pool at the Wyoming Area gym. - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Sisters Morgan, left, ninth grade, and Kelsey Chedister, eighth grade, are spotted in the photo booth during Mini THON at Wyoming Area. - - Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

EXETER — The first rule of Mini THON is — you don’t sit down.

Wyoming Area Secondary Center hosted its second Mini THON, an event held in solidarity with Penn State’s annual charity event THON, from May 12 to the morning hours of May 13.

Unlike the Penn State event, which functions as a non-stop dance marathon (hence the name), Wyoming Area’s event acts as a lock-in party. However, both share an important rule.

“One of their traditions at Penn State THON is you don’t sit, so we try to keep everybody standing, we try to keep everybody moving, we try to keep everybody interactive,” said Wyoming Area seventh and eighth-grade English teacher Anthony Macario, co-organizer of Mini THON. “We’ve got a physical fitness relay planned for about 4:00 this morning. That’s where it gets hard. That’s where it got hard last year.”

To keep students interactive, a full slate of activities was planned from 6 p.m. May 12 to 6 a.m. May 13. The secondary center multipurpose room housed the basketball tournament, while the school’s gym hosted a number of attractions, including air hockey, pool tables, corn hole and video games. Wyoming Area senior and Mini THON volunteer Julia Kopetchny said the activities are chosen based on attendee feedback.

“We just kind of do what the student body wants,” Kopetchny said. “’Fortnite’ is really in right now so we have a lot of screens of ‘Fortnite.’ The basketball tournament was a big hit last year, so we’re going to do that again and there’s a magician that’s coming. He was really fun last year, so we’re bringing him back.”

Mini THON opened its doors for Wyoming Area elementary students and members of the community from 6 to 10 p.m. and, after 10 p.m., students in grades seven through 12 entered for their all-night experience.

Wyoming Area freshman and Mini THON volunteer Jason Wiedl said the basketball tournament is a highlight for older attendees.

“It gets intense,” Wiedl said.

That intensity also stemmed to Mini THON’s fundraising efforts. Macario and fellow co-organizer, Wyoming Area seventh and eighth-grade social studies teacher Ashley Aritz, said fundraising started in September 2017 with events like pizza sales and bagging for charity, as well as in-school holidays like dress-down days.

Mini THON aimed to beat last year’s grand total of $26,000. Through pre-event efforts, local sponsors and donations, students entered May 12 with a total hovering around last year’s. After admissions and raffle and bake sale totals, the 2018 Wyoming Area Mini THON raised $31,500.

A portion of that total will be donated to Little Eric’s Foundation, a non-profit founded in memory of late Wyoming Area student Eric Speicher. The rest will benefit the same charity as Penn State’s THON: Hershey-based pediatric cancer care center Four Diamonds.

That’s used for a variety of things,” Macario said. “That’s used to offset medical costs, that’s used to employ people at the hospital.”

In March, the students who volunteer to bring Mini THON to life — the students Macario said “do 95 percent of the work,” — visited Four Diamonds.

“They met the people working there and got to see where the money goes,” Aritz said. “They got to see how they made a difference.”

Wyoming Area seniors and Mini THON committee members Julia Kopetchny, left, and Addison Orzel decorate the hallway before students arrive May 12.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Thon1.jpgWyoming Area seniors and Mini THON committee members Julia Kopetchny, left, and Addison Orzel decorate the hallway before students arrive May 12. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Sixth-grader Dominic Donati is focused while playing Kan Jam during Mini THON at Wyoming Area.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Thon2.jpgSixth-grader Dominic Donati is focused while playing Kan Jam during Mini THON at Wyoming Area. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Jake Switter, 10th grade, battles it out playing air hockey.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Thon3.jpgJake Switter, 10th grade, battles it out playing air hockey. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Sophia Farrell, left, and Hannah Zakseski, both fourth-graders, have a friendly game of pool at the Wyoming Area gym.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Thon4.jpgSophia Farrell, left, and Hannah Zakseski, both fourth-graders, have a friendly game of pool at the Wyoming Area gym. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch

Sisters Morgan, left, ninth grade, and Kelsey Chedister, eighth grade, are spotted in the photo booth during Mini THON at Wyoming Area.
https://www.psdispatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Thon5.jpgSisters Morgan, left, ninth grade, and Kelsey Chedister, eighth grade, are spotted in the photo booth during Mini THON at Wyoming Area. Tony Callaio | For Sunday Dispatch
Wyoming Area event raises $31,500 for pediatric cancer research

By Gene Axton

For Sunday Dispatch

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.

Reach the Sunday Dispatch newsroom at 570-655-1418 or by email at sd@psdispatch.com.