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Hundreds buzz off hair to raise money for THON

By: Lauren Hensley

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- The countdown is on, with only a few days remaining until Penn State's THON gets underway. The annual dance marathon kicks off Friday, raising money for the Four Diamonds Fund for pediatric cancer research.

There was much to buzz about inside Evolve Studio on Monday afternoon as hundreds of students, and even new football coach James Franklin, went bald to help beat childhood cancer.

Penn State student PJ Tatano is the organizer behind the No Hair, Don't Care, event. It's a fundraiser where people pay $10 and watch as their locks fall to the floor with the money going toward the Four Diamonds Fund.

"It's amazing. It's in my opinion this is the best way to show you are there to support these kids every step of the way and just the sacrifice everyone who makes that comes in here and just the atmosphere," Tatano said. "You get that kind of THON feel, it is tough to get that feel outside of THON weekend."

Franklin also took his turn in the barber's chair. Though he didn't have much to buzz off, one special participant hacked off some very long locks. Molly Lichtenwalner challenged 200 people to participate at Evolve and if that number was reached she would go bald. Two hundred fifteen showed up.

"So first they put my hair in ponytails and that was the worst part of it and when she was like 'Are you ready?' and I am thinking to myself 'No, I'm not really ready,'" Lichenwalner said. "After being so involved in THON, I realized how selfish that is and how materialistic hair really is so when the opportunity came up I was like I have to do this, I have to do this and be so proud of it and just be a role model for all of these kids."

For many of those participating, like PSU junior Rick Kopecky, the small donation and cosmetic sacrifice is simply just for the kids.

"We are a university of support for any kind of cause, we are the largest student run philanthropy in the world and we are here to let people know that we are supporting these kids and that we are going to be there with them through thick and thin and that we are not going anywhere," Kopecky said. "Cancer doesn't stop, so why should we?"

THON 2014 gets underway at 6 p.m. Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center on Penn State's main campus.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times