THON!

You see them every year in late September. College students stand on street corners all around Westport. They smile, dance — and hold out cans, asking for donations.

Plenty of drivers — impressed by their enthusiasm — hand over bills. They feel good, even if they’re not exactly sure what they’re donating to.

This weekend, Taylor Harrington will be one of those students. Just 3 months after graduating from Staples High School, she’s eagerly anticipating her 1st “THON” as a Penn Stater.

Taylor Harrington (left) with fellow 1st-year student Lucy Mester. Both will be "canning" in Westport this weekend.

Taylor Harrington (left) with fellow 1st-year student Lucy Mester. Both will be “canning” in Westport this weekend.

This week, she emailed “06880.” She wants to explain exactly what she — and thousands of classmates — will be doing here, and across the country, on Saturday and Sunday.

She says that Penn State’s THON — which raises money for children with pediatric cancer — is the largest student-run philanthrophy in the world.

Every sorority and fraternity at the school is paired with families who have a child with pediatric cancer. In February, students and family members dance for 46 hours straight, in the basketball arena. They don’t sleep, or even sit. They just come together to raise money for their cause.

The “canning” weekend — in which students dressed in Nittany Lion logowear ask passing drivers for donations — is another way to raise funds.

A typical Penn State "THON," last year. Katie Seel (3rd from left) will be joining Taylor Harrington in Westport this weekend.

A typical Penn State “THON,” last year. Katie Seel (3rd from left) will be joining Taylor Harrington in Westport this weekend.

Taylor first heard about THON when she visited Penn State as a high school junior. Her tour guide raved about the dance marathon.

Taylor watched videos, and got even more psyched. A couple of weeks ago — finally a college student — she rushed Delta Gamma. The sorority has 3 THON families. She can’t wait to know personally the people she is raising money to help.

She is excited to be “canning” in her hometown. Other Staples grads — including Sarah Ellman, Meghan Lonergan, Gwyneth Mulliken and Katelyn Farnen — will also travel with their sororities, to towns in Pennsylvania and New York.

But Taylor is coming home — and bringing 7 sorority sisters along.

They’ll move around, at various sites downtown. If you see her, now you “can” definitely put a face to a name.

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