Moriah Woods to run in THON benefit for TEAM HOPE

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
G-AHS grad Moriah Woods has been in training during the roller coaster winter to be part of the Hope Express to the Penn State THON this coming weekend.

Moriah Woods does not attend Penn State, but she is as devoted to the annual THON as any Nittany Lion or alumnus. The sophomore at Millersville University is participating in a team 135-mile run over 24 hours in support of the fundraiser to fight childhood cancer.

THON is a student-led philanthropy highlighted by a dance marathon, this year scheduled for Feb. 19-21 at Bryce Jordan Center in State College.

The daughter of Ryan and Lisa, Woods has three legs of three miles each starting Thursday. The Hope Team of the Hope Express will carry a backpack of letters written by kids hospitalized at Hershey Children’s Hospital, to be given to the dancers. The logo is a Pony Express rider carrying an envelope.

Woods’ stints are at 8:30 p.m., 3:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. She will be running alone, but accompanied by a vehicle with a moraler, who makes sure she is hydrated, and provides her with cards of encouragement from her family. An RV follows as a resting place for the runners between shifts.

She has prepared by running in the snow, on hills and at night, but the latter “is kind of scary by myself.” She is going to carry a Go Pro camera to record her journey.

The run may be hard, but getting onto the team was too. Woods applied, participated in an interview, and then attended a runner’s weekend to convince the organizers she could handle the job. She was surprised almost everyone else graduated from PSU and was significantly older than she was.

“It’s a fairly exclusive thing for alumni to be involved in THON,” she said. “It was really challenging to get picked.”

The reason

Woods, 20, a 2014 Greencastle-Antrim High School graduate, is a special education and elementary education major. She ventured into PSU territory for several reasons.

She is running for her brother, 15, who is now 10 years cancer-free. The Hope Express is celebrating 10 years as an event. And she has friends and acquaintances who are survivors, as well as other people who are being remembered.

Woods has already met her fundraising goal of $1,000, but would like even more to donate to The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. Last year THON raised $13 million, and has raised $127 million since 1977.

People may donate through Woods at give2theexpress.org under the Hope & Conquer teams link.