Last weekend, Radnor Middle School hosted its 6th annual Mini-THON event. For those of you who may not know, Mini-THON is a dance marathon modeled after Penn State’s THON™ which is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, that provides emotional and financial support, spreads awareness, and ensure funding for critical research—all in pursuit of a cure for Four Diamonds families.
My family and I were invited to attend the opening ceremony of this year’s Mini-THON because our High School Senior son was asked to speak to the almost 500 middle school students participating about how Mini-THON was started at RMS. Heading into this event I knew that as soon as he began to speak, there was a 100% chance I would start to cry, and I did. As he stood there dressed in his original Mini-THON T-shirt from 2018, I knew I was supposed to see my grown-up young adult son, but instead all I saw was the face of my younger, wide-eyed 12-year-old who begged us six years ago to help him organize the first-ever Mini-THON in the Radnor Township School District.
He began his remarks by telling the kids about that December night in 2017 when he was in 7th grade, that instead of doing his Social Studies homework, he googled “how to start a Mini-THON at my school”. After watching numerous YouTube videos about Mini-THON and finding information on The Four Diamonds website, he went to school the next morning armed with information and grand plans, and asked his Science teacher, Mrs. Chrisie Dougherty, if she would help him start a Mini-THON at RMS and be the lead advisor for the event. Fortunately, she said yes, and he then convinced a small group of his friends to help him. They presented the idea to the school administration, it was approved, and they were ready to start planning.
He went on to explain to the students how they planned and executed the 1st Mini-Thon in just two months. They recruited 200+ students to come together for a six-hour night of dancing, games, activities, mascots, and speakers that resulted in raising over $35,000 for The Four Diamonds Foundation. He told them about how he started planning for the 2nd Mini-THON on the car ride home from the 1st Mini-THON! He mentioned how amazed he was that the second year was even bigger and better than he could have imagined, and how he cried when he realized they had surpassed their goals by recruiting 400+ students to fundraise and participate. He spoke about being both happy and shocked that night when they revealed that they had raised over $85,000, more than doubling the previous year’s total. He told them how that second year of Mini-THON was bittersweet because while he was thrilled with how much money they had raised, he was sad to have to leave this event behind at the Middle School. He knew in his heart that RMS was where Mini-THON was meant to stay, but that didn’t make it any easier for him.
After sharing more of his favorite Mini-THON memories, he took a moment to thank the students, teachers, staff, and community at large for continuing his legacy for the past six years. He also gave a special shout out to his Four Diamonds Foundation liaison and mentor, Ann-Louise DeBord, for all of her guidance and help in making his Mini-THON dream a reality. He ended by telling the students that this was yet another bittersweet moment for him; he was sad that this would be his last time attending Mini-THON as a Radnor Student, but he was looking forward to seeing how they will continue to grow the event, and hopefully someday he will be able to come back to participate as a teacher!
Once he finished speaking, he came off the stage and came over to hug my husband and I and we stood together, waiting for the “countdown to stand”. Once the countdown was completed, the kids rose to their feet, the event was underway, and it was time for us to go. In 2018, we all left RMS together after Mini-THON, but this year he drove away on his own, heading to his next activity. Lately, I’ve been wishing that we could go back in time and re-live those types of great events…but on that night, after listening to my son speak, I didn’t feel that way. Hearing him explain how big of an impact Mini-THON and the people who helped him bring it to life had on him, made me realize that we are all exactly where we are supposed to be…Moving forward…Onward and Upward!
Five minutes after we went our separate ways, my husband and I got the following text from him “Thank you for everything, I never could’ve done this without you. Love you both more than you know no matter what it seems like. You’ll always be my two favorite people on this planet. I love you”!
Later that night, at 10:00 PM, one of the other (and original) RMS Mini-THON advisors, Mr. Brad Lord, texted to tell us that this year was another record-breaking year!!! The 2023 RMS Mini-THON raised over $119,000, bringing the total raised by Radnor Middle School over the past 6 years to more than $500,000…For The Kids®.
Congratulations to the students, teachers, staff members, families and administrators who have worked tirelessly since the start of the school year to make this year’s event a smashing success!
For The Kids,