Pennsbury High School’s 7th annual MiniTHON raised $28,506.98 for the Four Diamonds Fund. The fund covers bills for childhood cancer patients at Penn State Children’s Hospital.
Led by senior student captains Carissa VanVeen and Kendall Swirles, a group of 150 students engaged in six straight hours of different games and activities at Pennsbury East to raise money.
While the THON is usually held in February, this year’s fundraiser was delayed until this past weekend due to the pandemic.
Last year’s THON had a full year for planning, giving plenty of time to organize. But this go around, it wasn’t until early winter that they got approval.
The shorter notice forced the planning committee to make some adjustments.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Faculty Advisor Meaghan Cappelloni.
Cappelloni started her THON days at Penn State as an undergraduate. She said it could have been really easy to throw in the towel in the face of the pandemic.
“Both of these girls as well as the planning committee heads were coming up with new ideas, coming to me saying, ‘Well what about this?'” she said. “I’ve just been really impressed with their ability to think outside the box, not get discouraged, and come up with alternatives.”
One of the bigger changes was the venue.
Instead of being inside at Pennsbury East’s gymnasium, this year’s THON was an outdoor affair. For the captains, this was an improvement.
“I think it gave a lot more opportunities for activities,” said Swirles. “We did large group games like capture the flag and all the participants were really into it.”
But not everything was a complete step up. Last year’s THON featured eight straight hours of dancing. Due to social distancing guidelines, the captains pivoted to lawn games instead.
“We also have an annual game called ‘Name That Tune’ that everyone loves every year we were able to do,” said VanVeen.
VanVeen told WBCB she got involved in the MiniTHON for the focus on helping kids. She is entering pre-med next year to pursue a career in pediatrics. Meantime, Swirles said she got involved Freshman year for the smoothies and hasn’t looked back.
Additionally, this year’s THON only included high school students. In the past, the entire Pennsbury School District would get involved to boost fundraising.
“Seeing the number at the end, I don’t think anyone was disappointed,” said Cappelloni. “I think all of them are really proud that we could contribute anything, given this difficult year, and still be able to a cause we’ve been raising money for now for seven years.”