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THON gets underway today

Updated: Friday, February 21 2014, 02:20 PM EST

By: Kerri Corrado and WJAC Web Staff

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The world's largest student-ran philanthropy is ready to get underway in Centre County Friday as hundreds prepare to dance for nearly two days straight and thousands descend upon Happy Valley to cheer them on.

THON 2014 kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State University's University Park campus. Students will dance for 46 hours, raising money for the Four Diamonds Fund that supports pediatric cancer research at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

The annual event is the culmination of year-long fundraising efforts, as students work to add to the millions of dollars raised through the years. About 96 percent of funds raised through THON are donated directly to Four Diamonds Fund programs.

Organizers have spent weeks getting ready, but have really been focusing this past week as they prepare for the dancing and the crowds. THON officials partnered with Centre County emergency management officials to prepare for a worst-case scenario that would require an evacuation of the BJC.

"They have a lot more people coming to their event and they're responsible for their safety," said Centre County Emergency Director Shawn Kauffman.

Organizers will also be using wristbands to track those who are inside the venue during the event. There is no limit to how long a spectator can be inside the seating area of BJC during the event, but there is a time limit for those who wish to be on the floor. Each time a person enters, a new wristband is required.

"We recognized gaps in terms of communication, making sure that we knew where to go and where to evacuate to," said THON public relations spokesperson Dana Giacobello.

Lines to get into the building are expected to be long throughout the weekend, officials said.

The total amount of money raised this year will be revealed at approximately 4 p.m. Sunday. Last year, more than $12.3 million was raised for the Four Diamonds Fund.

6 News will have coverage of THON activates throughout the weekend.

For more information on THON or to donate, click here.

THON gets underway today

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