The 46-hour Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon celebrated its 40th anniversary last weekend by breaking a record, collecting $10,686,924.83 to benefit child cancer patients and research. The first dance marathon in 1973 raised $2,000, and the 20th anniversary edition collected $1 million. In its lifetime, the marathon has grown to become the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, with a total of $78 million to its credit before the $10 million was added on Sunday.
The focus of the event, of course, is the 700 dancers who remained on their feet for the entire weekend, each with sponsors putting up dollars to provide their incentive. But this ambitious, successful fund raiser is not limited to what takes place in the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's main campus in Centre County. Students, faculty members, alumni and supporters host blood drives, spaghetti dinners and other events, and they're ubiquitous at busy weekend intersections across the state -- armed with their blue and white collection buckets -- for weeks before the dancing begins.
Penn State has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent months, with a child sexual abuse scandal, charges against a former assistant football coach and two administrators and the firing and death of long-time head coach Joe Paterno. Since then, the university has spent upwards of $3 million on damage control.
It is the students, though, who get the credit for providing a positive image of their university, accomplished through their hard work and generosity. On behalf of the grateful families who will benefit -- thank you, and happy anniversary.