|Stacia Hollingsworth cries as she reads a letter |
during mail call on Saturday morning.
|Stacia and her sister, Ebony Hollingsworth, laugh at a letter|
during Mail Call on Saturday at THON.
I was only on the floor for a little while on Friday, since I was trying to edit through some video and write a paper on Uncle Tom's Cabin. If you've ever been to THON you'll understand why I didn't get very far with either. I still shot a little bit, and it was a good time to get in the THON shooting groove.
Saturday morning was productive. Mail call happened, which is when dancers get letters and packages from their various supporters. These can be as practical as snacks and deodorant or as emotional as letters from kids with cancer. I found one dancer, Stacia, who was an emotive person and I followed her through opening her packages. She laughed, she cried, I shot it all. It's great to find people who don't mind you quietly documenting them, and fortunately THON creates an environment that lets you shoot just about anything without surprising anyone. Occasionally people will spot you and pose, but there's so much going on that in a moment they'll go back to whatever they were doing, and you can delete those shots and shoot something candid and infinitely better.
At noon on Saturday afternoon, after a pep talk from Bill O'Brien, the THON kids' fashion show happened. While it was a great way for the dancers to get familiar with all the kids, the photo possibilities mostly consisted of little kids standing awkwardly at the front of the stage, so I hung around the back of the stage.
Earlier in the day I'd shot a little kid in a lion suit playing with squirt guns. His name was Layn Burger, and he was a Four Diamonds kid who had been treatment-free for five years. As a matter of course, I got his name, age, hometown, and a nice quote from his mother ("Without THON he wouldn't be here"). Over the weekend I reached a point where I'd photographed so many kids so many times that taking names was redundant, which was useful for situations where I wasn't able to get to the family to take their name.
|Layn Burger, 7, hugs the Nittany Lion after his appearance in|
the THON fashion show on Saturday.
I stuck around the Bryce Jordan Center until 3:00 Saturday afternoon, when our editor realized that a group of THON kids had gone across the street to the football facility for a Make-A-Wish excursion with the football team, and we didn't have a photographer there. So I snatched up my camera, sprinted through the Pegula Ice Arena construction zone, and found about 25 kids working out where a week earlier I'd filmed an open workout. I shot a few frames - kids working out, kids trying on uniforms, kids playing with football players - before Bill O'Brien arrived and Jeff Nelson kicked us out.
Beta Sigma Beta’s THON child Sam Creasy, 5, of Harrisburg, tickles Penn State defensive tackle Derek Dowrey (53) during a Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Building on Saturday.
|Penn State fullback Andre Dupree helps Trenton Sullivan, 2, |
of Hanover, do a pull-up at a Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch
Football Building on Saturday during THON weekend.
Anyway, it's probably as exhausting to read about this as it was to cover it, so without much further ado, I present people crying, the Nittany Lion taking a baby powder bath, and Mike the Mailman.
|The Nittany Lion receives a 10-second massage as part of THON 2013's Slides of Strength at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday.|
|Morale captain Dredeir Roberts and Mike the Mailman dance before THON's mail call on Saturday morning at the Bryce Jordan Center.|
So finally, Layn hugging the Lion went over pretty well at the office, so they blew it up for our first poster front in... a while? and now I have a foot-high stack of Collegians in my dorm room. It was a lucky shot to make; I wasn't planning on it, I barely had enough time to zoom in and focus, and I was only standing there because I wasn't shooting what THON wanted me to shoot. But I was shooting THON for 20 hours, and I was in the BJC for 40, so good things come to those who wait, I guess.
Hillel child Layn Burger, 7, of Elizabethtown, Pa., hugs the Nittany Lion after walking down the runway of the THON 2013 fashion show on Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center. This is Layn's seventh THON, and his fifth treatment-free.
Images are property of The Daily Collegian. Don't steal, give us credit. Also thanks to Penn State College of Comm for lending me a D800 and some wicked shahp lenses, to John Beale for letting me take out the gear I wanted, and to the editors at the Collegian for continuing to like me.