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Penn State Berks Students Raise $1,022 in Dance for the Cure for THON

Article about the Dance for the Cure organized by learning assistants at PEPP-Reading.
thon_organizers.jpgREADING, Pa. – Two Penn State Berks students who are employed as learning assistants with the Penn State Educational Partnership Program (PEPP) recently coordinated a fund-raising dance at Northeast Middle School in Reading. The event, called Dance for the Cure, raised $1,022 to benefit THON, Penn State’s annual philanthropic dance marathon.

The Dance for the Cure was held December 14 and was an overwhelming success. It drew about 225 teens who kicked up their feet, enjoyed snacks, and had their pictures taken with the Penn State Nittany Lion.

Sophomores Mathew Kovalich, an Elementary and Kindergarten Education major, and Kahlie Long, Elementary Education major, organized the successful Dance for the Cure and associated activities.

Kovalich and Long both are learning assistants for PEPP, an educational partnership under the auspices of the Penn State College of Education. PEPP supports academically underrepresented youth at middle schools and high schools, encouraging them to pursue their full academic potential. The program operates in three Pennsylvania School Districts—McKeesport, Philadelphia, and Reading.

Learning assistants are undergraduate students and are traditionally hired by PEPP from the ranks of the College's Elementary and Secondary Education majors. Learning assistants provide assistance to PEPP students with homework support, study-skill development, and individual and social growth.

thon_reading.jpg "I have been a PEPP learning assistant at Northeast Middle School for two years now,” said Kovalich. “These are some of the greatest kids I've ever seen, and I wanted to show them that they can make a difference."

In planning the dance, Kovalich and Long enlisted the help of the middle school’s PEPP students, engaging them in various tasks such as advertising, decorating, and collecting and accounting for the raised funds. Kovalich and Long also coordinated school assemblies that explained the mission of THON, and a Jeans Day during which students and staff donated $1 for the privilege to wear jeans.

THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, benefits the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports families battling pediatric cancer. Last year, THON generated more than $5.5 million.