THON 2019

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Women's Rugby Helping to Tackle Pediatric Cancer

Each year, Penn Staters come together in the fight against pediatric cancer, raising funds and support and dancing in Penn State THON’s 46-hour dance marathon, knowing that “one day we will dance in celebration, until then, we will dance for a cure.”

And while that meaningful slogan, well-known by any involved in THON, may be true – that the ultimate celebration will come when a cure for pediatric cancer is found – many, including members of the Penn State women’s rugby team, had reason to dance in celebration on February 17 when the THON 2019 fundraising total was announced at $10,621,683.76.

“It takes a village to beat cancer. It’s so much more than us fundraising and us being there to make kids forget about their struggles for a little bit." - Ellie Fromstein, Junior

This year, members of the women’s rugby team were instrumental in fundraising toward that total throughout the year, as well as getting involved with THON in capacities beyond solely fundraising. “It takes a village to beat cancer. It’s so much more than us fundraising and us being there to make kids forget about their struggles for a little bit,” said Ellie Fromstein, a junior scrumhalf who currently serves as the women’s rugby THON family relations chair. “It’s about the parents and the doctors and everyone that’s fighting to make life better for other people. I love that it’s all about that whole aspect.”

Since February 2015, Penn State Rugby has been paired with THON child Logan McCarthy. Logan was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in January 2015, but now, more than four years later, Logan is thriving, and his family has become a part of the women’s rugby family as well.

“It’s been just so much fun getting to know [the McCarthys],” said Fromstein, whose own mother also successfully battled cancer and who now often FaceTimes with Logan and his parents. “We’ve been getting super close with our [THON] family. We loved them before, but now we’re so close we love them even more.”

“THON was just a really big reason why I came to Penn State to start out with, so having the opportunity to dance just meant the world." - Katie Sayer, Junior

This year, the McCarthy family spent time with the women’s team on several occasions. The team visited them at home (which involved some epic nerf gun battles!), at the THON Family Carnival, after which they came together to bake cookies and brownies, and, of course, during THON weekend, where the team was represented by two dancers, Katie Sayer and Gianna Solomon.

Having the opportunity to have two dancers represent women’s rugby during THON weekend is a great privilege, and for Sayer and Solomon, a great honor.

“Ellie called me [to tell me I was going to dance], and I started crying,” said Sayer, a junior who plays hooker for the team. “THON was just a really big reason why I came to Penn State to start out with, so having the opportunity to dance just meant the world."

“I just remember looking around [during THON weekend] and just crying because you can feel the love in the air, and you know the reason why everyone is there,” continued Sayer. “Everyone has a different reason, and everyone’s been affected differently, but to see basically our whole university come together is mind-blowing. Our rugby organization is so grateful to get to be a part of it.”