'THON: 50 Years for the Kids' airing on abc7NY

Watch 'THON: 50 Years for the Kids' on Channel 7 and wherever you stream abc7NY on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.
NEW YORK (WABC) -- THON is the largest student-run philanthropic event in the world.

This year is a hybrid event so children undergoing active treatment and anyone unable to be at the Bryce Jordan Center can still watch from their homes or hospital beds.

This Saturday at 7:00 p.m., ABC 7 New York will present "THON - 50 Years For The Kids," a special produced by our sister station 6abc in honor of Penn State's THON, the world's largest student-run philanthropy.

For five decades, THON has held a dance marathon that is now 46 hours of dancing to raise money for children battling cancer. The highly popular and successful initiative that began in 1973 has raised more than $190 million.

All money raised benefits Four Diamonds at Penn State Health Children's Hospital, the exclusive underwriter for the broadcast, in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

"THON - 50 Years For The Kids" will be hosted by 6abc's Walter Perez, Alicia Vitarelli, and Ducis Rodgers.

For the Kids
THON is aimed at saving the lives of kids and what better way to start than hearing from those who have been saved.

Donations to THON go towards helping students get closer to the quest to end childhood cancer.

Alicia shares how THON helps save lives with every minute of dancing.

50 Years of THON

Both THON and Four Diamonds were founded a half century ago.
But it was five years before the two organizations would come together, creating a partnership that has the power to literally change the world for kids with cancer.

Ducis Rodgers tells the story of that historic merger.


Meet the Dancers
For those who sign up to dance, THON Weekend is a test of stamina.

There's no sleeping or sitting in the 46-hour long dance marathon.

We spoke with five dancers -- Reilly Burton, Mattie Ross, Caroline Newman, Emily Duddy and Zach Long -- all seniors at Penn State University, who say it's worthwhile because it's for the kids.

The students who plan it all
One weekend of THON takes nearly a year of advance work.

With top-level execution each year, it can be easy to forget that the organizers aren't professionals.

An executive committee of sixteen leads the charge.

Ducis meets some of the stars behind the show.

Four Diamonds origin story
Charles and Irma Millard started the Four Diamonds fund in 1972, just hours after their 14-year-old son, Christopher, died of cancer.

Christopher had written a story about his three-year battle with the disease, depicting a knight going up against an evil and unpredictable sorceress.

To win, the knight needed courage, wisdom, honesty and strength -- attributes Christopher called The Four Diamonds.

So that's what his parents decided to call the fund that they created in his memory.

Watch 'THON: 50 Years for the Kids' on Channel 7 and wherever you stream abc7NY on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

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