Even before Diana Nolte discovered her passion for THON, the legendary 46-hour Penn State student fundraiser for pediatric cancer, she seemed perfectly suited for the cause.
Her favorite hobby? Dancing. THON dancers also need to be in prime condition, and the Penn State Abington sophomore trains daily at the gym. Her personality and attitude? Ideal for the no sitting, no sleeping challenge – she describes herself as energetic, outgoing, and “very comical.”
“I’m really short, but I like to think I’m fun size,” Diana, who says she looks like Lilo from the animated film Lilo & Stitch, said.
But she turns serious when it comes to THON Weekend and raising money to support families struggling with a child's cancer diagnosis.
“This is my first year in THON, and I instantly fell in love,” the Peruvian-born dancer said. “I was privileged to be selected as a morale captain and events captain.”
"Moralers are a dancer's motivation. ...The friend who keeps each dancer alive, happy, and wipes their tears when they cry from being tired."
-- Diana Nolte, Abington THON dancer
After learning she was one of two Abington students selected to dance THON Weekend, Diana and her campus cohorts - dance partner Mary Roche and THON chair Melissa Aguilar - drove through a snowstorm for a retreat at University Park.
“Heart racing, hands sweating, knees shaking! All these emotions running through me as we get ready for the THON dancer retreat," she wrote on the Abington Lions Tales student blog. "But what better way to spend a weekend than with a group of amazing people all fighting for one cause?"
While there Mary and Diana (dancers 6A and 6B in THON lingo) were thrilled to meet two people critical to THON success, their Moralers Kylee and Bill.
"Moralers are a dancer's motivation throughout the 46 hours. The friend who keeps each dancer alive, happy, and wipes their tears when they cry from being tired," she wrote on the blog. "We expanded our THON family."
With just a few days left until THON Weekend, Diana is in the zone.
"It’s time to continue this dancer diet and keep eating and working out for a healthy body to survive 46 hours of fun," she said.
The IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon raised a record $13.34 million last year, bringing the total support for the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital to $114 million since 1977. THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.