by Anissa Ilie
Penn State student and Juniper Village at Brookline dietary associate Kaylee Macko doesn’t have a lot of free time, but this member of PSU’s Student Nutrition Association uses what time she has nurturing the spirit of life in others. This past weekend, Kaylee participated as one of 700 dancers at THON, the University’s annual dance marathon/year-long effort to raise money to fight pediatric cancer. This year was Kaylee’s second time participating in the nation’s largest student-run philanthropy, but her first time as a dancer.
When the junior–majoring in nutrition and dietetics, and minoring in gerontology and human development and family studies–was asked what drove her to participate in the event, she shared the following: ” Last year, I came to THON to support my best friend while she danced for her organization. The second I walked into the stands at the BJC, I was completely overwhelmed and inspired by everything that was going on. I knew then and there that I had to find a way to contribute to this amazing cause. One month later, my club was having elections for the executive board positions for the following year. I decided to run for THON Family Relations Chair and to my surprise I won! My job was to be the person who directly contacts our THON family and be the one in charge of setting up events and activities for my club and I to do with the family. After meeting the Potters (our THON family) and getting to know Corban (our THON child) and his journey with Pediatric Cancer, I really wanted to try and run for the chance to dance on their behalf and be able to represent this amazing and courageous family on the floor during THON weekend. I was so ecstatic when I won. It was by far the hardest thing I ever had to do emotionally and physically, but definitely the most memorable and rewarding experience of my life. Words really cannot explain the things us dancers go through in those 46 hours; Laughter, tears, aches and pains. I wouldn’t change or take back a single second of that weekend for anything! At the end, when we were able to FINALLY sit down, I just sat there and cried like a baby. Not because I was tired or in pain, but because it was all over. I could not (and still cannot) believe that the BEST weekend of my life was actually over.”
This year’s THON raised $13,026,563.23.