UNIVERSITY PARK - Students finally have a reason to celebrate and show the world exactly what "We are ... Penn State" means after raising $10.6 million for pediatric cancer research.
The total for the 2012 Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon - $10,686,924.83 - shattered last year's $9.5 million figure by more than $1 million, much to the approval of the thousands of students packed into the Bryce Jordan Center as the amount was revealed just after 4 p.m. Sunday.
The money all goes to The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital for pediatric cancer research. Four Diamonds families receive financial help for their medical bills as the kids undergo treatment.
For many students involved in the dance marathon, or just THON, surpassing 2011's record-breaking total was a surreal experience.
Last year, the Altoona campus raised about $100,000 during canning weekends, sophomore Bella Marino said.
And this year Altoona students took second place out of all the commonwealth campuses with a total of $82,872.57, Marino said.
"Honestly, this whole thing has been a blur," Penn State Altoona dancer Shane Rogers said.
Rogers, a sophomore, was one of six Penn State Altoona students who danced for 46 hours without stopping or sitting down during THON weekend.
The students' enthusiasm and hard work fundraising paid off this year, Altoona sophomore Ciara Rotonda said.
Already feeling the exhaustion from dancing non-stop early Saturday morning, Rotonda struggled to find the words to describe her THON experience before summing the weekend up with two simple words.
"It's amazing," she said with a smile.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.