A Look Into “The Largest Student-run Philanthropy in the World”

A Look Into “The Largest Student-run Philanthropy in the World”


Escape Room Inc is new to the area. We opened in September 2017 in the heart of downtown State College. Upon opening, it was no secret that the Penn State community was going to be a huge presence in the town. We are thrilled to be a part of such a great atmosphere and have tried to get involved with the community as much as possible. We started a fundraising movement for those interested in raising money with their organizations while also having a fun, immersive experience at Escape Room Inc. We are glad we were able to get involved and give back this year. We are eager to continue to do so in the future! In just the few short months that we have been here, we have learned a lot about Penn State and a lot about THON! We wanted to go ahead and shed some light on the event in lieu of this years Dance Marathon coming up in just a few days.

In 1973, a group of students thought of a way to give back to their community. This idea has since grown into the largest student-run philanthropy in the world: THON.

The growth of this dance marathon is unbelievable. To compare, in 1973, THON was held in Penn State’s HUB Ballroom, lasted 30 hours, consisted of 78 dancers, and raised a little over $2000. In 2017, THON was held in Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center, lasted 46 hours, consisted of 708 dancers, and raised $10,045,478.44.

Crazy! So, how did it get this far? Here’s a short timeline:



1973 – First ever dance marathon is held.

1977 – Four Diamonds became beneficiary

1979 – The dance marathon gets bigger! It is officially moved to Mary Beaver White Building to accommodate the size.

1987 – The name THON is created.

1992 – THON hits the million dollar mark for the first time!

1998 – THON is live! THON makes it on the internet for people around the globe to live-stream the event.

1999 – It gets even bigger! THON has to move over to Rec Hall.

2002 – THON holds its first THON 5k!

2007 – It gets even BIGGER! THON moves over to the BJC for its biggest venue yet.

2014 – THON raises its highest number to date: $13,343,517.33



In the span of 45 years, a total of $147,703,369.10 has been raised through THON. This number will grow even more this year and next year and the year after that. It certainly is no surprise that THON is “The Largest-run Philanthropy in the World.”




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