Monday, May 16, 2022

Medford native gives back through student run philanthropy

College senior O’Rorke has always wanted to help others

Medford native Caroline O’Rorke serves as 2022 dancer relations director for THON, a philanthropy based at the university.

Medford native Caroline O’Rorke gives back to the community and helps others as part of THON, one of the largest student run philanthropies in the world.

THON  is made up of more than 16,500 student volunteers from Penn  State University who impact the lives of children and families battling childhood cancer. 

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O’Rorke grew up in Medford Township and graduated from Shawnee High School in 2018. She is now a senior at Penn State, following in the footsteps of her sister and brother.

THON is committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer. It was first organized in 1973, by a group of students at Penn State who sought an opportunity to give back to their communities. Student volunteers participate in year-long fundraising that  benefits the organization’s sole recipient, Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. 

Along with emotional and financial support, THON spreads awareness and helps ensure funding for critical research. The intent is to one day be able to live out the philanthropy’s motto: “One day, we will dance in celebration. Until then, we will dance for a cure.”

O’Rorke’s desire to be involved in something like THON began years ago, when she started going to its events with her family. When a friend she knew in elementary and middle school, Danny Hill, was diagnosed with cancer in the eighth grade, she had her cause. THON and Penn State were the perfect settings for her passion and desire to help others.

O’Rorke reminisced about her first THON event, and how she always knew it was something she wanted to be a part of.

“I walked in and absolutely fell in love with it,” O’Rorke recalled. “There is something really special about seeing an entire arena filled with Penn State students who are all so passionate about the same cause.”  

O’Rorke now serves on the executive committee for THON as the organization’s Dance Relations Director, ensuring the safety of every dancer at THON weekend.

O’Rorke recently contributed to THON’s third annual Dream Forward  campaign, a 16-day effort that raised more than $1 million in just 16 days. With the 50th anniversary of THON’s 46-hour dance marathon approaching on  Feb. 18,  O’Rorke looks forward to the event being back in person, a way for the  philanthropy to build on and apply what its community has learned over the past years during COVID. 

As an active member of THON, O’Rorke spoke of what the  organization means to her and what she and others want to accomplish through it.  

“Bringing it back to the reason why we do it and getting to actually talk and create connections and relationships with those families, makes I think, every volunteer incredibly passionate,” O’Rorke noted “And I I think that is something that’s very special about THON is those personal connections that we make and everybody is so invested in finding a cure for this disease,” 

THON’s upcoming in person event is Feb. 18 to 20. For more information, visit https://thon.org/

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