Chancellor Wafa and students at THON

Worthington Scranton Students Participate at THON

PSWS Chancellor Marwan Wafa stopped by the Bryce Jordan Center at the start of THON to show his support to this year's THON dancers, Carli Gruzesky and Allan Souza, and cheer them on as they prepared for the 46-hour marathon.

When this year’s THON dancers for Penn State Worthington Scranton took to the floor in the Bryce Jordan Center on the first night of THON, Chancellor Marwan Wafa was there to show his support and cheer them on.

Dr. Wafa, who became Chancellor on July 1, was not only there to show his support for the dancers, Allan Souza and Carli Gruzesky, but also for Asialena Bonitz, a PSWS engineering major who was picked to sing the National Anthem at the start of THON.

Singing to a crowd of over 15,000 was definitely the biggest performance of Bonitz’ life, and the opportunity to dance in the annual 46-hour marathon was a first for Souza and Gruzesky as well. “I went to THON last year and it was awesome,” Ms. Bonitz said. “But to actually be a part of it now is so much better.”

Ms. Bonitz, 20, also will be among the performers at the pre-THON festivities this afternoon. She auditioned for that spot at main campus in the fall, and through that the judges determined she’d be the right choice for the national anthem.

“I usually sing in bars full of people every weekend, so (the audition) wasn’t that bad,” said Ms. Bonitz, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering. “But getting the news that I’d be performing there really affected me. ... I’ve never played for this many people.”

Students at PSWS raised over $12,500 for THON this year, and as soon as THON 2016 ends, they’ll start doing it all over again for next year. Since its inception in 1977, THON has raised more than $127 million.

Ms. Gruzesky, 22, and Mr. Souza, 30, earned their way into THON via their membership in Worthington’s THON chapter, which raises money for the cause through coin drops and other fundraisers.

The students were selected after sending in applications in which they had to explain what made them THON material. They also helped their cause by undertaking big fundraising efforts, with a ZumbaTHON at Mr. Souza’s fitness studio, Studio LA in North Scranton, and a fundraiser at Ms. Gruzesky’s place of employment, Vincenzo’s Pizzeria & Catering in West Scranton. The campus is right around its fundraising goal of $15,000.

A senior majoring in human development and family studies, Ms. Gruzesky said she threw her laptop across the room the night she received her THON acceptance email.

“I started crying. ... It was really great,” she said. “I can’t wait. I’m a little scared right now. Forty-six hours is a long time.”

 “My whole goal is to help those kids suffering from cancer. We can’t forget the big picture,” Souza said.

Going to University Park with the three were a group of other students, faculty and staff, who planned on being there throughout the weekend to show their support and help the dancers get through the 46-hour long event.

Jerry Palauskas, SGA president and an IST major at PSWS, knows how hard dancing in THON is. He was one of the campus dancers last year and while he was successful, he said the last few hours are really, really tough. “It was one of the hardest things I ever did,” he said. “But it was so worth it.”

Shawna Corcoran was also going to be with the group.  Diagnosed with cancer at only six months old, she lost a leg to cancer, but not her spirit. As a cancer survivor, she knows just how important raising money for cancer research is and is proud to be part of Worthington Scranton’s efforts.

Today, she is an active student at PSWS and was part of this year's THON committee, helping out at most of the fundraisers and THON events this past year.

She is also active in other groups on campus, and was most recently elected president of the Student Government Association (SGA), along with Mr. Souza, who was elected SGA vice president.