Three Penn State Blue Band members rocked THON this year. The event, like so many others in this Covid-depressed era, was virtual – but the enthusiasm was real.

As part of Band Together (which represents both the Blue Band and The Pride of the Lions Pep Band [POTL]), students raised $20,168.54 this year.

For 46 hours, participants danced (or at least stood) to raise money in the fight against cancer.

The Blue Band’s trio included:

  • Sophomore Lizzie J. Giacobe, a microbiology major who plays clarinet in the Blue Band and serves as one of two Family Relations chairs for Band Together;
  • Matt Bowers, a senior studying wildlife and fisheries science. He also plays clarinet and has been part of Band Together since his freshman year;
  • Elizabeth Bagley, a sophomore studying human development and family studies. Freshman year she was a Silk in the Blue Band. This year, she plays piccolo in the POTL pep band. She has been in Band Together since her first semester and is the other Family Relations chair for Blue Band.
Lizzie Giacobe, Elizabeth Bagley and Matt Bowers (L to R) represented Band Together in THON.

For dancers like Elizabeth the dancing is personal. “Three of my family members have fought cancer,” she says. “I’m dancing to show our three families that they’re not alone.”

Her THON was memorable. “I stood from 6 pm Friday until midnight, slept from midnight to 6 am, stood from 6 am Saturday until midnight, slept midnight to 6 am, then stood Sunday 6 am until 4 pm.” This was done according to THON recommendations because not all dancers had medical services available to them if something went wrong.

Matt and Lizzie did THON together. Matt almost completed the entire 46 hours. “I stayed awake and stood for 45.5 hours. I danced with Lizzie in the same apartment, and she decided to take advantage of the 12-6am breaks to sit and sleep a little,” he recalls. “Because of this, early Sunday morning I was alone and could not stay awake even while standing, so I gave in and took a quick 30-minute nap to get me through the rest of the final day.”

All three dancers got good ink for themselves, Blue Band and THON in THE DAILY COLLEGIAN. They had their strategies and their woes.

Matt, for example, stretched and massaged his feet with a tennis ball to keep going. Giacobe binge-watched “Will & Grace.”

Is THON tougher than Blue Band rehearsals? “THON is all about endurance while band focuses on higher intensity, shorter sprints of energy — like an eight-minute pregame,” Matt notes. He found THON was definitely more of a mental struggle. “Surprisingly,” he continues, “My legs and feet did not hurt too much during the weekend…possibly due to the training provided by countless band rehearsals!”

Matt Bowers, Elizabeth Bagley and Lizzie Giacobe (L to R) show their Blue Band and THON spirit.

Elizabeth, too, struggled with the mental aspects more than the physicality of THON. “After four years of high school marching band and a year of Blue Band, being on my feet for so long wasn’t the issue for me…it was more of the boredom,” she says. Some of the live stream acts were entertaining, but there were many hours to fill. “Don’t get me wrong, my feet did hurt towards the end. But five years of marching band made me used to being on my feet for long periods of time,” she says.

Matt says that ABBA members should know that, while Band Together is a fairly small organization, “We are a family much like Blue Band is a family. We love that we are able to represent Blue Band and the athletic bands in THON every year!”

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