Valley woman to take part in 46-hour dance marathon to raise money for pediatric cancer reserch

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Every year, hundreds of Penn State students pledge to stand for 46 hours straight, as part of the university's annual dance marathon in February.

Since 1977, Penn State has raised $157 million for pediatric cancer research. For one Valley woman and Penn State senior Jessica Sallurday, it was evident she wanted to participate in THON since her freshmen year.

"Just watching everyone in that entire arena swaying together and crying crying and laughing," said Sallurday. "These kids are having the best weekend."

Since then, Sallurday got involved, volunteering to make an impact in any way she can.

Now, in her last year of college, Sallurday will be one of the more than 700 students dancing for 46 hours in February.

"I think my nerves are put to the side, knowing that it's for a good cause, and it's nothing like what they've gone through," said Sallurday. "So, giving up a couple of hours and having sore feet, it's going to be worth it."

Sallurday is preparing by eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, and catching up on sleep. As one can imagine, no sitting and no sleeping for 46 hours is not a stroll in the park,
but she has been motivated for a long time to become a THON dancer.

"My neighbor as a child," said Sallurday. "I was friends with my neighbor. He was diagnosed with pediatric cancer and as a kid, I didn't know that meant. I just knew my friend was sick."

Sallurday's friend, Nick Daniels, passed away in 2006 from leukemia. Daniels was only 13 years old.

"When I got to Penn State, that was my driving force with the dance marathon, and then from there, I continued to meet families through my dance organization," said Sallurday.

Sallurday could only hope Daniels is smiling from up above.

THON weekend is from February 15 to 17.

Penn State THON