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This weekend here at Penn State it was THON weekend. THON is a two-day Dance Marathon that takes place every February at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, United States with the purpose of raising money to combat pediatric cancer. It was started in 1973 by the university’s Interfraternity Council, and in its first year, more than $2,000 was raised, with 39 couples dancing for 30 hours straight. Today, it is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, by involvement and revenue. This afternoon we learned that $13,343,517.33 have been raised at the 2014 event.The money that is raised is donated to The Four Diamonds Fund, a charity devoted to defeating pediatric cancer through research and caring for patients at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. 74% of funds are transferred to an experimental therapeutics fund while 12% of funds are used for patient and family support. In 2011, the Four Diamonds Experimental Therapeutics Endowment was funded to a level which enabled the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital to recruit two physician scientists to the Four Diamonds research team. More than 15,000 students get involved in THON each year, organizing it and raising funds with the rallying cry, “FOR THE KIDS!”. (See a picture at the Daily Collegian http://www.collegian.psu.edu/news/campus/thon/article_4a3dd514-9cb2-11e3-9f28-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=image)

Friday night as I was leaving work I saw a crowd of students running, heading to the stadium where THON takes place. I got chills and watery eyes. I felt so inspired by the passion and dedication students put in this project. Every single student I talked over the past few weeks were absorbed and absolutely dedicated to this project. Students gather all year around to go canning for this cause, they work on letters and postcards for the kids and their families and they take radical care the previous days to endure the 46 hours dance, no sitting, no stopping, no quitting as a way to show support to the kids and families in the cancer battle. I couldn’t be more inspired by this community. It is amazing what can happen when inspired people come together for a bigger cause. I love this community!

I had my little THON weekend as well, things to catch up, yoga class I wanted to take (themed to THON, thanks Kristen!), studies and reading I wanted to focus, time to connect with my husband and to self care to be able to keep up. It felt like pushing myself a little bit out of my comfort zone, stretching myself in a way, but yet trying to stay resilient. Stretching without breaking. What does feed that endurance, and resilience? I guess in my case is passion, knowing that afterwards there is that feeling of fulfillment, for me studying is about that, grasping and incorporating something new, becoming richer in a way, more resourceful, have more tools, finding answers. Yes, at times it can be tiring, even exhausting, but when I think about the students dancing for 46 hours non stop, who am I to not stretch enough so I conquer the edge of my comfort zone? I loved a metaphor I heard this weekend in a yoga class, stretching to the edge, and it can actually be fun and playful, and we can discover new places we didn’t before, and that’s really cool!

So, after THON weekend, we all need a little extra rest, self care and relax to begin a new week, hopefully still energized but most importantly inspired to keep chasing dreams, making discoveries, unraveling the secrets of nature and of our intricate lives.

Happy Sunday and have a beautiful week!