Tuesday, February 21, 2012

THON Sunday

Sunday is the biggest day for THON. The last four hours are very emotional for everyone in attendance, and the total of months of efforts is announced. Since THON has moved to the Bryce Jordan Center, the building has reached capacity and visitors are turned away from being part of the fun. I didn't want to risk not being able to have access to the floor, so headed to the BJC by 8:30 on Sunday. As I walked up to the building I heard an announcement that the BJC had reached capacity and that visitors could form a line to get into the building outside of the one gate. Luckily they were still allowing media in and I made me way to the floor.

I got there as they started to set up for the last slide of strength of the weekend. The operations committee rolls out a large mat, that they cover in baby powder and the dancers slide down to get 10 seconds off their feet, and a quick massage by committee members.

As the morning rolled on it was time for the Kids Variety Show. Twice throughout the weekend Four Diamonds children have the opportunity to perform on stage and show off their skills, from dancing and singing, to monologues, and jokes. This Four Diamonds child, Tucker, is an annual star of the variety show, and this year broke it down to LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem."

The Paterno family has always been a huge supporter of THON. In 2009, Joe spoke on stage, saying "I wish the whole world could see and feel what's in this room right now." When Joe passed away last month the family asked in lieu of flowers to donate to the Special Olympics, or to THON. Joe's son, Jay, visited THON on Sunday afternoon to remark about how special the event was and though he didn't use his fathers words exactly, emphasized how he wished the whole world could see what Penn Staters were doing to help others.

A dancer is embraced by her father as he visits her on the floor with several hours to go.

The morale captains from the last 5 years perform their respective years line dance on stage. As I photographed I couldn't help but sing along to the 4 years that I was involved.

THON overall captains tearfully watch a video that features where Four Diamond children who are cancer free are today.

Family hour is the most emotional part of the weekend. All the families in attendance are introduced, and some are given the opportunity to share their story.

During family hour the capacity filled BJC emotionally watched a video tribute to all those Four Diamond children who lost their battle with cancer in the last year.

After wiping away the tears and remembering those who were lost, the band Go Go Gadget took the stage to get the crowds spirits high again as they power into the final two hours.

Morale captains take the stage to perform the second to last line dance of the weekend.

Dancers laugh as they celebrate being able to sit down after the 46 hours.

The THON overall captains jump in excitement as they announce the total raised for 2012, $10,686,924.83.

The entire BJC holds their diamonds to the sky in celebration of the record breaking total raised at this years THON.

THON Saturday

I stopped back in at THON on Saturday afternoon to capture some of the fun festivities going on and for some photos to accompany a story about all the behind the scenes things to help the dancers. I got caught in the middle of several squirt gun battles, and hit in the head by beach balls more times then I remember.

A dancer rolls her foot over a tennis ball as she starts to feel the pressure on her feet and body.
Hospitality committee members wonder the dance floor with snacks for the dancers.

Moralers help the dancers keep stretched out.

A dancer holds hands with a Four Diamonds child as she donates her hair to wigs for kids.

Penn State Athletes play games with the Four Diamond families.

THON Friday Night

Every February Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center transforms from a standard arena to host basketball games and entertainment events, to a colorful fun land for folks of all ages. THON, the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon takes over the building for 46 hours of dancing to help find a cure for pediatric cancer. Months of effort goes into the event that raises money for the Four Diamonds Fund, which is based at the Hershey Medical Center and helps families going through the battle of pediatric cancer. This year THON celebrated their 40th anniversary.

I covered the event when I was a student, in addition to participating through an organization, and dancing my senior year. I was excited to cover the weekend and here are a few of my favorite images.

Friday afternoon the dancers make their way from the multi-sport complex to the Bryce Jordan Center in the human tunnel of moralers cheering them on for the hours that are to come.

Once settled in the BJC, dancers stretch and lounge on the floor in preparation to be on their feet for the next 46 hours.

Whiplash, along with other dance teams performs during the opening ceremonies.

Dancers celebrate as they stand at 6 pm to start their 46 hours of dancing for a cure.

The morale captains lead the 2012 line dance for the first time on stage. The dance, full of pop culture references was performed 46 times through the weekend to help keep the dancers moving and stretching. Some features in the line dance include a tribute to Paterno, "409, what a run, thank you Joe for all you've done," and a line about each of the four diamonds words, courage, strength, honesty and wisdom.

After the crowd watched the line dance for the first time, it was their turn to learn it.

With all the negativity around Penn State in the last months, many involved with THON used this weekend to show the world what Penn State is really all about. This dancer, used a famous Joe Paterno quote on his dancer shirt,"make an impact." Every Penn Stater lives by this quote the dancer said.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Nebraska at Penn State Basketball

Last week work got me a new camera body. Yay new camera! I now have two full frame bodies to work with, a Nikon D3s and a Nikon D700. I'm still getting adjusted to all the button placements on the D3s, since it's been a while since I shot with one on a normal basis. Shooting vertically is a different feeling then the grip on the D700. Today I covered the Penn State basketball game and I think I'm getting used to it now.

Here are some of my favorites.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Red Bull Buttercup

It's now February in Happy Valley and we haven't seen as much snow as some would like. So Red Bull trucked in 3 trucks worth of snow to a downtown parking lot to host their Butter Cup challenge for all the snowboarders out there. Seventy contestants boarded their way down a scaffolding hill and through a mini terrain park to compete for prizes and even some cash.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Memorial For Joe

Thursday, January 26, 2012.

After the family had their private services and burial on Wednesday, a public memorial was held on Thursday. "A Memorial for Joe," was held in the Byrce Jordan Center and tickets were made available for free to the public. The tickets went fast the morning they were released, and some that were posted on ebay for sale were quickly taken down. Letterman and friends of the Paterno's were also given tickets.

People walked through the rain and into the Bryce Jordan Center as the screen in the stadium still displays Joe's photo.

The memorial had former players, the Nike chairman, and several others speak, in addition to video montages throughout Joe's tenure. All the speeches highlighted Joe's qualities off the football field, and many talked about Sue and her great influence.

I was creating a video of the memorial so only took a few photos throughout the memorial as I was stationed with the video camera.

Rest In Peace Joe.