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Mini-THON celebrates 25th anniversary

High schools have raised $36 million for Four Diamonds since the program’s inception

Like many students across the nation, Matthew Talley says participating in Mini-THON is a highlight of his high school experience.

“It’s shaped the person I am today,” said Matthew, who is from Urbana High School in Ijamsville, Md. “I couldn’t imagine my high school experience without Mini-THON as a part of it. I’ve learned such a diverse variety of skills that I know I’ll use for the rest of my life.”

2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Mini-THON, which began in 1993 at Hershey High School in Hershey, Pa.

“It was inspired by THON – Penn State’s dance marathon – but Mini-THON has really taken on a life of its own,” said Kristen Masengarb, director of Mini-THON for Four Diamonds at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

Mini-THON engages more than 100,000 students annually, from more than 280 schools in eight states, in a movement to conquer childhood cancer.

Their enthusiasm is closely matched by the spectacular amount of money they raise. In the 2017-2018 school year, Mini-THONs raised $7 million. To date, they have raised a total of $36 million for Four Diamonds.

“Mini-THON helps students enhance and develop leadership skills and introduces them to philanthropy and community service,” Masengarb said. Participation inspires teamwork, leadership and creativity while empowering youth and young adults through philanthropy and community service.

“Mini-THON taught me a lot about myself, my ability to lead and my passion to help people,” said Anna Mansfield of Mechanicsburg Area High School in Mechanicsburg, Pa. “I loved seeing my school come together for a great cause, and I loved watching Mini-THON grow each year in my community.”

Mini-Thon brings the entire community—schools, businesses and residents—together for one common mission and is a great source of pride for the school district, said Corrine Bauman, Mini-THON adviser at Camp Hill High School in Camp Hill, Pa.

“The high-schoolers are working together, often with peers outside their social circle, as budding philanthropists, while also inspiring the younger generation to be agents of change,” she said. “In just the three years that our high school has been involved, Mini-THON has brought out the best in our students and staff. It teaches our kids to act with compassion and gives them a platform to use their skills to benefit others.”

Current and prospective students and advisers look forward to attending the annual Four Diamonds Mini-THON Leadership Summit each summer in Hershey. It provides an opportunity for them to network and share ideas with other Mini-THON participants while receiving training from qualified professionals.