Mini-THON 2017-2018 total celebration

During the 2017-2018 school year, 100,000 student volunteers hosted 283 Mini-THONs, raising $7,036,560.82 for Four Diamonds at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

At Columbia High School, adviser Linda Eckman Wissler said Mini-THON took on special meaning a few years ago when a young district resident dropped a note in a fundraising bucket saying he was a Four Diamonds child.

Today, she said, elementary student Brayden Drzewiecki is in remission from leukemia and an enthusiastic participant in Mini-THON activities.

“That’s the thing that stands out most, when he is dancing and getting involved in the games,” she said.

Four Diamonds recently reported that Mini-THONs at 27 Lancaster County schools raised $693,682 in this past school year, up from 23 raising $658,593 in the 2016-17 school year.

The student-led events are modeled in part on Penn State University’s THON, a fundraising dance marathon, and the money supports childhood cancer research and “ensures that the families of all children treated for cancer at Penn State Children's Hospital have no out-of-pocket costs,” according to Four Diamonds.

The name Four Diamonds was taken from the title of a story written by Chris Millard, an Elizabethtown eighth-grader who died of cancer in 1972.

Overall, the nonprofit reported that 283 Mini-THONs raised $7,036,561 this past year, up from 265 Mini-THONs raising $6,461,295 the previous year — and that the number of schools holding Mini-THONs has nearly tripled since the 2009-2010 school year.

Eckman Wissler said Columbia does Mini-THON every other year.; this was an on year, and Four Diamonds reported that the small school raised $11,725.

“There’s a bucket at all of our sporting events,” Eckman Wissler said. “At the football games, they sell baked goods. We do pep rallies, we do contests.”

Lancaster Mennonite School was also back on the Mini-THON list after an absence. Teacher Jim Stutzman said the previous adviser had left the school, and that he agreed to take on the role at the request of two seniors who told him they wanted to revive the event.

“I said yes in part because my youngest brother who’s 10 years younger than I am almost died of a brain tumor when he was 10 years old,” Amstutz said.

He said the goal was to raise $2,000, and the event went better than expected; according to Four Diamonds, the school’s total was $10,345.

Dr. Barbara A. Miller, chief of pediatric oncology and hematology at the children’s hospital, said mini-THON funds “are essential for our team to conduct innovative research and to develop new therapies.”

“Research offers the best hope for a cure, and these students make our research possible,” she said.

This was the 25th year since Mini-THONs started, according to Four Diamonds, and over the last quarter century the effort raised more than $36 million.


Here's the list of Lancaster County schools that held mini-THONs in the 2017-2018 school year and how much they raised, according to Penn State Health Children's Hospital.

Bear Creek Elementary SchoolTallied with Elizabethtown HS
Cocalico High School$4,887.50
Cocalico Middle School$16,123.65
Columbia High School$11,725.10
Conestoga Valley High School$15,222.86
Donegal High School$10,396.21
Donegal Intermediate School$3,600.00
Elizabethtown Area High School$83,000.41
Elizabethtown Area Middle School$8,018.49
Ephrata High School$15,284.69
Ephrata Intermediate/Middle School$28,864.97
ER Martin School$3,830.46
Hempfield High School$78,652.77
J.P. McCaskey High School$12,423.20
Lampeter-Strasburg High School$19,802.41
Lancaster Bible College$536.00
Lancaster Catholic High School$57,039.27
Lancaster Country Day School$20,101.87
Lancaster Mennonite School$10,344.69
Manheim Central High School$26,022.00
Manheim Central Middle School$11,846.56
Manheim Township High School$111,332.69
Manheim Township Middle School$34,494.19
Millersville University$10,087.40
Penn Manor High School$28,989.57
Solanco High School$9,132.98
Warwick High School$61,921.86