Volunteering,Dance marathon,Student,Panhellenic Dance Marathon,Teacher,Child,Cancer

Hectic lives of student teachers and THON volunteers all 'For The Kids'

January 19, 2017
in Kids

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Volunteering for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon typically means you have a passion to help raise funds that go toward research that helps young children not only fight but recover from the effects of cancer and live life to the fullest. Enrolling in the College of Education’s Elementary and Early Childhood Education (EECE) major typically means you have a passion to teach young children invaluable information in the formative period of their lives. Handling THON duties as well as out-of-town pre-service or full-day student teaching responsibilities in the same semester typically means you have no time for a normal student life, but because of that passion, you can live with that. A group of EECE majors is pairing a variety of those time-consuming roles this academic year with no regrets but perhaps ample amounts of coffee. The landmark “100 Days Til THON” date passed last semester on Nov. 9, and since then preparation workloads for the Feb. 17-19 THON weekend have grown in intensity. Those students are a small part of a large group of student volunteers who have raised more than $137 million for pediatric cancer research since 1977, including nearly $9.8 million last year What follows is a look at those EECE majors and their THON-related roles. They know very well how THON can be a lifelong, emotional vise-grip, and they want others to share their experiences. A social media campaign (#MyPSUTHONStory) will celebrate the unique stories of Penn State alumni and friends by inviting them to upload a video of 45 seconds or less to their Facebook page or Twitter with the hashtag #MyPSUTHONStory, or by simply sharing a post including the hashtag, telling their individual story. People can nominate three friends to share their THON stories as well. Contributors with ties to the College of Education also are asked to include the hashtag #CollegeofEducation. Here is a look at those EECE majors and their THON-related roles: Kaitlyn Johnston From Ramsey, New Jersey, Kaitlyn Johnston is an alumni engagement captain whose duties include programs that involve University alumni — the Alumni Challenge and Inspire5 programs. Johnston said the Alumni Challenge is a competition among graduation decades to determine which decade can raise the most money. A “big reveal” will be held to honor the decade of graduates who contributed the most. Inspire5, THON’s newest movement, is a direct-mail campaign that allows alumni and other THON supporters to send solicitation cards to at least five of their family, friends and co-workers to encourage them to join the fight against childhood cancer. Johnston had pre-service teaching duties in Mifflin County School District in Lewistown last fall and added to that science, math and social studies methods classes. This semester, she’s teaching full time and running her own classroom, as well as running THON duties. “Passion is the biggest factor in how I budget time,’’ Johnston said. “I have wanted to become a teacher since second grade and grew up working with children. Every child deserves the right to learn and have a childhood, which is one of the main reasons why I work to ensure that my students are benefiting from my instruction and presence in the classroom, and we are continually looking for new ways to raise money for children battling cancer.’’ Johnston said the energy on THON weekend in the Bryce Jordan Center is undeniably contagious and all possible emotions are experienced. “You watch kids get to be kids again and for one weekend, the cancer is no longer a part of their life,’’ she said. “You have a chance, in that weekend, to bring a smile to their face, make them laugh...

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