Atlas & THON FAQ


1. What is THON?

THON, or the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, raises funds and awareness for the Four Diamonds Fund to help combat pediatric
cancer. It is a year-long effort that culminates with a 46 hour no sitting or sleeping dance marathon. THON is recognized as the largest student-run philanthropy in the world and has raised over 100 million dollars for the fight against pediatric cancer. For more questions about THON, visit

2. What is the Four Diamonds?

The Four Diamonds was started in 1972 by the Millard family shortly after their son, Christopher, lost his battle to pediatric cancer. Any family with a child being treated for pediatric cancer at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital is automatically eligible to benefit from the Four Diamonds.  This supports the medical staff that cares for the children, funds pediatric cancer research and covers all expenses that insurance does not cover.

3. How can I donate to THON?

There are many ways to donate to THON, the most efficient way is to make a contribution online at any time. You can donate by clicking this link (insert link for our donate page). For more information select the “About” Tab and drop down to the “Donation Information” section of our website. 

4. What is Atlas?

Atlas is one of the many organizations that helps to raise funds and awareness for THON. We were started by a small group of friends based out of the Schreyer Honors College in 2005, and since then have become the highest-earning fundraising organization for THON. Atlas devotes most of its attention to THON but members also participate in other university-related activities such as Homecoming or intramural sports. Any Penn State student is eligible to become an Atlas member!

5. How do I join Atlas?

Atlas is a unique way to be involved with THON. There is no official membership or dues, but Atlas thrives on the fact that it has so many dedicated members who want to do as much as possible to be involved in THON and the fight against pediatric cancer. If you are interested in joining Atlas’ email list, enter your name and email at the bottom of this website’s Members: How to Join tab. You can also contact our president, Kate Robinson, at

6. How does Atlas raise money for THON?

Atlas raises money for THON through a diverse range of fundraising methods. These methods include alternative fundraisers such as bake sales and a date auction, to personal donations from mailer solicitations or online fundraising. Corporate or small business donations, canvassing and storefront solicitation (canning), also contribute to Atlas’ fight against pediatric cancer one dollar at a time.

7. What is canning?

Historically, canning has been one of the most rewarding ways to raise money for THON through streetside solicitation throughout Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. It is an excellent way to raise money, get more involved with THON, and meet Atlas members. With safety changes, THON has decided to phase out canning. For THON 2017 there will be two canning weekends with storefront solicitation only; there will be one weekend for THON 2018 and this will be the last canning weekend.

8. What are committees?

Atlas is comprised of four committees that meet weekly throughout the THON fundraising season. The committees are: Family Relations, Donor and Alumni Relations, Alternative Fundraising, and Special Events. Each of these are great ways to get more involved with our families, fundraising for THON, and the more social aspect of Atlas. Just like Atlas as a whole, there are no specific requirements for being a part of a committee as they can be attended at any point throughout the year. For more information refer to the “Committees” tab.

9. Why is the fuzzy pink hat a significant part of Atlas?

When our THON child Victoria Smith was undergoing treatment for A.L.L., she was unable to attend her first THON. As her family streamed the event on their computer from the medical center, they found it rather difficult to pick out which students were representing Atlas. Victoria at the time had a blue fuzzy hat that she liked to wear on her head as she was going through her chemotherapy treatment. She liked the fuzzy feeling that the hat provided as she lost her hair from consecutive chemotherapy rounds. Stephanie, Victoria’s mother, suggested that Atlas order the hats in Victoria’s favorite color, which is pink, so that members could stand out in the crowd. The rest, of course, is history. Since then the pink fuzzy hats have become a symbol of our dedication to THON and our Four Diamonds families.

10. Who are Atlas’ THON families?

Atlas is officially paired with three Four Diamonds Family and has a close relationship with a legacy family: The Smiths, The Gerenas, The Johnsons and the Brobsons respectively. This sponsorship is a unique of THON since the program allows for organizations to get to know the families they are supporting on a personal level and build long lasting relationships. For more information see the “Our Families” tab.

For more information, please email