PSU Berks students bring THON to Reading

Version condensed to 46 minutes

READING, Pa. - Riley Rejniak of Leesport is like most five-year-olds. He has his favorite Pokemon character.

"Charmander," Riley said.

And he has his favorite superhero.

"Spiderman," he shared.

But unlike many children his age, he has stage-four neuroblastoma.

"When we first found out, we didn't know how we were going to do it, if we were going to sell our house, if we were going to have to get second jobs," recalled Riley's dad, Greg Rejniak.

The family eventually heard about something through Penn State, called THON.

"It's going to be taken care of. If you guys are here, you're a part of THON, Four Diamonds," he said. "You're taken care of."

It's usually 46 hours of Penn State students dancing nonstop in State College, but a version at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Reading, condensed to 46 minutes, had the same message.

"We wanted to bring it, kind of, to Berks County, since we are at Penn State Berks, and we wanted to show them what it's all about and why we love what we do and want to keep doing it and raise money for pediatric cancer," said Amanda Alpuche, special events executive for Berks Benefitting THON.

"It's just a little glimpse of what we do when we go up to University Park," said Brianna Tomeo, communications executive for Berks Benefitting THON.

It's also a glimpse into a family's fight.

"It's very, very hard," Rejniak said.

And it's a student-led stand to stomp out childhood cancer.

"I know personally, and with everyone else, that's here at Penn State Berks benefiting THON, we take that to heart," Alpuche said, "and it really gives us the drive and passion to keep going forward, putting all the time and energy in to raise money for them."

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