As February approaches, every Penn Stater knows it’s almost time for THON to shine. But before hundreds of students dance to heal, THON clubs and organizations are hard at work raising funds for the grand total reveal.
Each dancer and organization finds a different way to fundraise to achieve their goals. For the Penn State Club Cross Country, it’s a treadmill at Waring Commons that makes all the difference.
Club Cross Country’s “Miles for Smiles” is a 46-hour treadmill marathon that has raised over $175,000 for THON since its inception in 2015. The event traditionally takes place in late January at a Waring Commons saloon . This year, it will run from 6 p.m. on Friday, January 28 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 30. Cross Country Club members will take turns on the treadmill during the event before the total number of miles run is matched with donors. ‘ contributions.
To break up the monotony of the treadmill relay, each hour of the marathon has a different theme. This year’s themes include a karaoke battle, a balloon animal contest and a “Guac Power Hour” where club members attempt to make their own guacamole. Everyone is welcome to stop by to cheer on the runners and join in the festivities.
Last year, Miles for Smiles was forced to change its plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of gathering around a treadmill, club members ran alone and combined their total miles at the end of the marathon. Club members encouraged each other via Zoom and even got creative with their themed hours.
Jodi Patterson, the club’s current chair of fundraising and finance, walked 46 miles in 2021 and was a dancer at the 2021 THON Virtual Celebration.
“Being in that environment, with the team and how much they loved it, was a little extra boost,” she said. “It was difficult, but cancer is so much more difficult. I’m really excited to [have] the whole team together.
Last year, the club reached its fundraising goal of $50,000 despite last year’s obstacles. This time around, he’s aiming to break his 2020 total of $62,000.
The Cross Country Club is sponsored by the Nittany Valley Running Club and a host of downtown businesses. Club members raise funds through DonorDrive, a platform that allows users to create personalized pages to connect with potential donors. Some of the largest donations have come from former club members who have since graduated from Penn State
Internal communications chairman Jake Connolly stressed the importance of club alumni continuing to support the marathon.
“As our club is one of the largest on campus, our alumni numbers are also huge,” he said. “They’re always sticking around trying to help us with the business matchmaking of their businesses or just [donating] themselves.”
Over the years, Miles for Smiles has also become an important bonding event for the Cross Country Club. Donor and Alumni Relations Chair Rachel Clark said fundraising has helped the club develop a more family-like atmosphere.
“That’s where a lot of people realize they love Club XC and want to get more involved,” she said. “It’s great to see everyone gather around the treadmill and cheer on the runners. It definitely connects people who are involved in this cause.
Those interested in donating to the Cross Country Club can visit its Donor Drive page or contact the club’s THON presidents to pledge a donation per mile. For more information on the Cross Country Club, visit its official site.