STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTXF/AP) - Hundreds of hardy Penn State students raised more than $10 million for pediatric cancer patients in the annual 46-hour dance marathon known as Thon.
The $10,045,478.44 total was announced Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of the Penn State Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, billed as the world's largest student-run philanthropy.
Money raised benefits pediatric cancer patients and their families at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Child cancer survivors and their families also participate along with the dancers, who aren't allowed to sleep or even sit and are helped by thousands of other students in support roles.
The 2017 total was an increase over the $9.7 million raised last year. That total was significantly lower than the $13 million from the year before and the record $13.34 million a year earlier. The event has raised more than $137 million since 1977.
Officials announced last spring that the annual charity dance marathon was phasing out the practice of soliciting from motorists, often on busy highways, after two students died in recent years. The practice will end in 2019.
The announcement followed the death of a 19-year-old sophomore in a one-car crash in September 2015. Another student volunteer died in December 2011 while traveling for a weekend of fundraising.
Thon officials cited stagnant growth from street solicitation efforts, as well as the safety of student participants, as reasons for the change. They said time and resources would be shifted to other fundraising options, citing growth in online donations and contributions paid with checks.