San­dusky sickos? Tell me ‘we are’ bet­ter than that

The Advance of Bucks County - - OPINION -

Irev­eled in the feel­ing of small town life on Satur­day as I took pho­to­graphs of teams of peo­ple paint­ing Hal­loween win­dows in New­town. It’s the kind of event that makes you feel good about liv­ing in Bucks County. But in an in­stant that feel­ing was taken away by an in­sult shouted from a car win­dow as it passed by a group of Penn State students rais­ing money for THON, a stu­dent-run dance marathon held ev­ery Fe­bru­ary at the univer­sity to help fight pe­di­atric can­cer.

I shook my head as the words, “San­dusky sickos,” pierced my ears and those of the Penn Staters.

They also fell on the ears of a group of mid­dle school-age Girl Scouts paint­ing a Hal­loween scene on the front win­dows of a nearby build­ing. I over­heard one of the young girls say, “Yeah, he is a sicko,” not re­al­iz­ing that the in­sult was di­rected to the Penn State students stand­ing nearby. I’m glad they didn’t make the con­nec­tion, but felt sorry for the THON solic­i­tors.

I’m sure many more peo­ple gave, and gave gen­er­ously on Satur­day than threw in­sults out of car win- dows, but it both­ered me.

So I ap­proached two of the Penn Staters and took their pho­to­graph for the news­pa­per to give them a lit­tle ex­tra pub­lic­ity. I also dropped some money into their bucket and apol­o­gized for the ig­no­rant, un­car­ing words they had to hear.

The students didn’t seem fazed. They had a more im­por­tant mis­sion in mind – rais­ing money for the fight against pe­di­atric can­cer. 0y guess is that they’ve grown ac­cus­tomed to the San­dusky in­sults, which sadly and through no fault of their own will fol­low them throughout their years at Penn State and be­yond.

What that un­car­ing, in­sen­si­tive per­son in the car doesn’t get is that THON, oth­er­wise known as the Penn State IFC/Pan­hel­lenic Dance 0arathon, is the largest stu­dent-run phi­lan­thropy in the world. That, to me, says a lot about the cal­iber of Penn State students and their com­mit­ment to help­ing oth­ers, es­pe­cially chil­dren.

While you only see the THON can­is­ters at this time of year, THON is a year­long ef­fort to raise funds and aware­ness for the fight against pe­di­atric can­cer that cul­mi­nates in a dance marathon held ev­ery Fe­bru­ary that’s broad­cast live around the world via the In­ter­net. And here’s what’s re­ally im­pres­sive. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $89 mil­lion for the Four Di­a­monds Fund at Penn State’s Her­shey Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal. Its mis­sion is to con­quer pe­di­atric can­cer by pro­vid­ing emo­tional and fi­nan­cial sup­port to the chil­dren, fam­i­lies, re­searchers and staff of the Four Di­a­monds Fund

So the next time you see the Penn State students stand­ing on the cor­ner with those fa­mil­iar blue and white can­is­ters in hand, con­sider giv­ing. Your mon- ey will be go­ing to a wor­thy cause and you will be show­ing – by your do­na­tions - that we do care de­spite the San­duskys of this world and the un­car­ing, anony­mous peo­ple who think it’s funny to hurl anony­mous, ig­no­rant in­sults out of car win­dows.

Way to go, Blue and White! heep show­ing the world, like you have since 1977 and for many years be­fore that, that Penn State students and alumni care.

For more in­for­ma­tion about THON, visit www.

Penn State students Scott Su­sanin of Bryn Mawr and Kate Palmer of Erie so­licit for THON and the fight against pe­di­atric can­cer along New­town’s Sy­camore Street.

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