ST. MARYS — St. Marys Area Middle School hosted its first “Mini-Thon” event Feb. 21, raising funds for pediatric cancer research through dancing, games and a good time.

SMAMS teacher Dana Smith said the “Team Renaissance” club, focused on spreading positive messages throughout the school, came up with the idea to be a part of THON, a fundraising and awareness campaign led by Penn State University students.

Mini-THON raised $7,100 for the fight against childhood cancer, Smith said, and the seventh grade had the most participating students. MaryAnna Sines raised more than $200 through an online donation page.

The event drew an overwhelming response, Smith said. Local businesses donated several items, including a cotton-candy machine and 900 glow sticks.

“The parents, teachers, community members and students made the night go off without a hitch, and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” she said.

Smith said there was something for everyone at Mini-THON.

“We wanted to make it an event where all kids felt welcomed,” she said. “Kids could play sports and board or video games, draw, dance, get their faces painted and more.”

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Every hour featured a different theme, Smith said, including carnival, beach, glow stick and athletic-hour themes.

Early last week, Mini-THON had already surpassed its $1,500 goal through an online fundraiser.

Students were able to enjoy basket raffles, buy THON gear, add to a “For the Kids” banner and take pictures in a photo booth by Creative State of Mind Photography.

The St. Marys Area Middle School cheerleaders and a dance team kicked off the event, Smith said, followed by “top-of-the-hour” speakers.

Some SMAMS students have had pediatric cancer themselves, Smith said, and could relate to the speakers and the cause.

Diane Bobik was a guest speaker, sharing the story of her son, Connor, who died of pediatric cancer nine years ago. Jennifer and Bob Scolari and their son, Reece, also attended the event. Reece, who was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease at 3 years old, is currently a SMAHS sophomore and has been cancer free for 12 years.

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