Editor’s Note: This is a re-post from last year (2/15/12), describing the importance of THON 2012 before it even happened, a historic weekend in Penn State history we will never forget. Everything still reads true today, and we did reach $10 million.
My senior year at Penn State, the 2011-12 collegiate school year, has been, simply, a challenging one for our university and the Penn State family, to say the least. We were in the heart of events we never thought imaginable, from one of the biggest scandals in the history of sports, to the death of one of the most influential men in the history of sports.
We saw Joe Paterno scolded in the media, then fired, and then gone within 3 months. Just typing that sentence is difficult.
The name Jerry Sandusky (who we refer to as ‘Voldemort’), is even more difficult to type.
We saw two candlelight vigil’s at Old Main. We were involved in multiple “riots”, or “gatherings”, and were trashed by ESPN, CNN, FOX, CBS, NBC, you name it. We saw a viewing and a historic memorial service for the most influential man in the university’s history. We saw astonishing, monumental changes to our university in the means of a new president, athletic director, and head football coach.
We saw and felt tears of shame, sorrow, fear, anger, uncertainty, amazement, “insert how you felt here”, shared among the Penn State family. We saw tears from Jay Paterno and Sue Paterno. Tears from current and former Penn State football players. Tears from 5-year-old children, and tears from 85-year-old grandparents.
We saw a tear on the Penn State logo. We saw ribbons, blue in November and then black in January, on the Lion Shrine.
We lost two freshman girls, Gabrielle Sicard and Courtney O’Bryan, in tragic car accidents. Courtney while on a canning trip. We got yelled, spit, and cursed at while canning. And we missed a canning weekend, all together.
We went from a QB controversy, to a child-abuse scandal. We went from upset we lost to Alabama, to upset we might have lost our football program, as a whole.
Jay Paterno went from an under-achieving QB’s coach, to one of the most respected men we ever had the pleasure of shaking hands with. Tom Bradley went from the coach we didn’t really know or care about, to Scrap, who we will never forget. Mike McQueary went from a fiery, red haired, WRs coach with a promising future, to an unemployed husband and father, unsure if he will ever coach again. Sue Paterno went from a cute, respected woman, to a Penn State icon, who will forever receive a standing ovation for simply gracing us with her presence. Joe Paterno went from an unquestioned living legend, to the late Joe Pa, and the most controversial and talked about man on the planet.
And finally, and most hurtful, the place we love and live, Penn State, went from “Success With Honor” to “Ped State”.
“May no act of ours bring shame” is now sung louder. Every time we think of the chant, “We Are Penn State”, we think of saying “Still” in between “Are” and “Penn State”.
Challenge is an understatement.
Penn State experienced turmoil and tragedy this year, and with the sorrow, embarrassment, and disbelief of the tragedies came unification. We see it over and over again in America History, and Penn State turned tragedy into togetherness unlike anything we have ever seen before.
From the vigils, to #FlyHighGaby, to Cyber Canning . From the “riots”, to the Nebraska game, to the blue out. From the letters, to the opinions, blogs, statuses, and tweets. From the viewing, to the memorial service, to Guiding Joe home, to the statue. Penn State came together like no other.
Ironically, as all of this mayhem winds down, and is seemingly and finally “over”, we are approaching the most unifying weekend any university takes part in, THON.
THON is a weekend where the Penn State community comes together more than any other weekend of the year. Penn Staters of all races, ages, sizes, genders, and ethnicities come together to fight pediatric cancer and put a smile on the face of a child with cancer.
THON 2012 will be special. THON 2012 will be the culmination of our university coming together in mass form, one ultimate time this year. THON 2012 will be the epitome of a “Penn State family”. THON 2012 will not be your typical THON weekend. THON 2012 will be more emotional than any other THON before it. THON 2012 is Penn State telling the world, the haters, the critics, “Look at us now”. THON 2012 is saying we miss you Gabby and Courtney. THON 2012 is saying thank you Joe, and F-you Jerry.THON 2012 is begging for the media, rather than denouncing it like we did in November. THON 2012 is saying, despite a scandal, despite the loss of our legendary leader, despite the loss of two beautiful freshman girls, despite the loss of a canning weekend, we still did it. We still “THONED”. And, We STILL are Penn State.
And imagine, just imagine, if we do hit $10 million. Not that it matters, but just imagine it, because frankly, I can’t.