After going virtual for a year, the Neshaminy High School MiniTHON returned to their traditional in-person format on January 14. Following an afternoon of music, dancing and games in Gym 3, the organizers revealed the total raised for Four Diamonds — a foundation that funds pediatric cancer research and helps young cancer patients — was $27,697.85. This marks a new record for MiniTHON at Neshaminy, which has now raised over $100,000 over the past seven years since the high school started the activity. MiniTHON is a local version of the wildly successful THON fundraiser at Penn State University which has raised millions of dollars since it was founded in the 1970’s.
Facing the pandemic last year, NHS MiniTHON student Executive Directors Alyson DeGulis and Makayla Stock took the event online with a virtual party on Zoom. Despite the lack of an in-person event to focus their fundraising, they managed to raise $7,454. This year, with help from their club advisor Kimberly Montone, they were able to get back to their in-person format.
The event was preceded by several months of planning and fundraising by MiniTHON club members. To participate in the dance, the students had to raise at least $20 to get in the door; most raised far more. They canvassed local businesses, held in-school fundraisers such as “No-Shave November” and “Stall Day” to encourage their classmates and Neshaminy staff to contribute. In December, students from the District’s three middle schools held a “Mini-MiniTHON” of their own at Neshaminy High School and raised over $5,000 for their event. Those students were also invited to join the main MiniTHON in January and many did attend.
Alyson said that this year she did not expect to immediately return so quickly to the goals set prior to the pandemic. “I really didn’t think we would break $20,000,” she said. “I thought this year would mimic the first year of MiniTHON where we have to get the word out again and get people to realize how big of a deal it is and how important it is.”
“Now I think that people just wanted to do as much as they possibly can. They want to get involved and do everything they missed last year,” she added.
Both Alyson and Makayla credit their committee members for their success this year, along with support from Ms. Montone and the entire community.
Makayla, who was inspired to lead Neshaminy MiniTHON after seeing the challenges her own family faced after her younger brother was diagnosed with cancer, said she understands the financial and emotional stress that results.
“I wanted to help with that,” she said. “All the money that is raised goes to research, and to help that parents don’t have to worry about anything else while they’re in long-term stays at the hospital. It’s a very, very long process.”