With the tagline “Rise Up. Dance On.” Urbana High School’s 5th annual Mini-THON will bring seven hours of music and movement, all to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and to support the families battling the disease.
On Saturday, April 27, more than 100 students are expected to take over the UHS gyms and cafeteria and move nonstop from 4 to 11 p.m.
All money raised before and during the UHS Mini-THON benefits Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. For eligible children, Four Diamonds covers all medical expenses related to cancer care that are not covered by insurance. To date, the organization has been able to help all pediatric cancer patients treated at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
“As in previous years, DJHP will DJ the event. Students will also be able to participate in a basketball tournament, a handball tournament, ZUMBA and a raffle,” said Seth Hajzus, UHS Mini-THON executive director and part of the 2019 graduating class. Community members are invited to attend the UHS Mini-THON from 5 to 7 p.m. “For families interested in attending Community Hour, there will also be a moon bounce, food, raffles and games!” Hajzus added. Admission to Community Hour is by donation.
The 2019 UHS Mini-THON honors those fighting pediatric cancer. “This past year we recently lost one of our Four Diamonds kids, Meghan Johnson, to brain cancer, and two of our other kids, Marcus Josey and Ashlyn Brysiak, were recently placed in remission,” Hajzus said, “so this year is in honor of their fights.”
Guided by UHS teachers Matthew Ferrante and Stephen Ward, UHS MiniTHON is a large, spirited club. The UHS Mini-THON Board is comprised of 17 students. Led by Hajzus, they are seniors Ariana Bennett, Hannah Soltani, Sean Hanner, Olivia Talbott, Emily Masson, Lucas Roberton, Ben Landon and Morgan Capone; juniors Kaitlyn Reilly, Joshua DiGiorigo, Gretchen Hoffman and James Kelly; sophomores Alyssa Ferrante and Kayla Mustafa; and freshmen Megan Mulligan and Isha Sahai.
“Our Mini-THON Club consists of about 200 students,” Hajzus said, “but the entire student body at one time or another has contributed to the cause.”
“We are always looking for business sponsorships to help us fund the event,” Hajzus added. “I do have to say the YoBubble has been one of our biggest supporters this year as well as in previous years.”
UHS Mini-THON is one of 238 high schools in eight states raising money to fight pediatric cancer, Hajzus said. Many colleges also hold THONs.
“I am very proud of this organization—we are ‘the little organization that could’ in the fact that our first organization was the first Mini-THON in Maryland, five years ago, supporting Four Diamonds which is synonymous in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, people know what THON and MiniTHON is,” UHS Mini-THON advisor Stephen Ward said. “To see this group grow from four eager students who created our organization from the ground up—with a dream goal of $10,000 and achieve it by raising over $22,000 in its first year—to what it has become now, raising over $155,000 for kids with cancer in just four years, is astonishing. I am so proud of all of the efforts of these students.”
In addition to the dance marathon, UHS Mini-THON holds other events year-round to raise funds—over the summer at the Urbana Carnival, in the fall through car washes and periodically through silent auctions and partnerships with local businesses.
“The beautiful thing about this organization is that every year our Executive Board is evolving—new members join our Executive Board, members who have been with us for a couple years step into more prominent roles, and they each bring their own set of fresh ideas. I always enjoy seeing the new ideas they come up with,” Ward said. “For example, this year our Board successfully held the first student vs. teacher basketball game at UHS in quite some time, we partnered with Upper Deck and held a successful silent auction in December. It’s a joy to watch kids take ownership and grow into effective student leaders. Kids helping kids—it’s an amazing feeling.”
Since its inception, UHS Mini-THON has raised more than $155,000 for Four Diamonds, including $40,219.20 last year alone. The 2019 Mini-THON goal is to bring the five-year total to more than $200,000 raised.
“At this point, with what we have created, the final total to me is the least important component,” Ward said. “The students could raise $10,000, $25,000 or $100,000—it is all the same to me because what is important is to watch their year-long efforts culminate in one special night. They sacrifice so much of their time—they make a commitment—they make a difference. That is what is important to me, and I am honored to be one of their advisors.”
For more information on UHS MiniTHON 2019 “Rise Up. Dance On.”—planned for Saturday, April 27, 4 to 11 p.m. at Urbana High—visit uhsmini-thon.com.