By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sparked by an overwhelming feeling of inspiration to help others, Penn State men's golfer Connor Raeman is ready to take the floor at THON 2018.
With his mother working in hospitals his whole life, Raeman is constantly surrounded by childhood cancer and its harsh reality, having always felt there was more he could do to help.
"I've met a lot of families that have lost someone due to childhood cancer," Raeman said. "Anyone affected by cancer, whether they're kids or not, it's not their decision and they didn't do anything wrong, they're just unfairly punished. I thought it was important to give our whole school and the athletic department my personal 110 percent effort to help them."
That is exactly what the junior will be doing the weekend of February 16th at the Bryce Jordan Center. Raeman was chosen along with four other student-athletes to dance in the 46-hour dance marathon through the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB).
When the New York native stepped on campus three years ago, he didn't even know what THON was, but quickly got involved through SAAB during his freshman year when he learned about the organization's part in the fight against childhood cancer.
"I just thought it was a really awesome cause and a good way to get involved in school," Raeman said. "I thought it was the best way to make a difference and meet a lot of new people."
Although Raeman got involved in THON to help in the fight against pediatric cancer, he has stayed and continued to get so involved because of the incredible THON families he has met along the way.
"The families are always just the most amazing people and if you met them on the street you would never know they were going through all this hardship," Raeman said. "When you talk to them they're the happiest, sweetest, most optimistic people in the world."
Raeman's most recent inspiration all started with a broken light in his apartment. When a repairman came to fix the light, he noticed Raeman's THON items on the counter. After talking with the repairman and finding out the father's son was a THON child, it put Raeman's decision to dance in perspective, reminding him of who he was doing it all for.
"I just really want to help [those affected by childhood cancer] out," Raeman said. "They're in this terrible position and it's just not fair. I feel like I really needed to help these people."
With Raeman still in the middle of the golf season, he has continued to attend early morning lifting sessions. Although he won't be able to attend the team work out on the Friday THON starts, he knows his coach and teammates will understand.
In preparation for the dance marathon, Raeman revealed he isn't doing anything outside of his normal routine, except trying to go to a sleep a little earlier than usual and incorporating more cardio into his workouts. Being a student-athlete, he feels his competitive attitude will help to give him an advantage throughout the weekend.
"I definitely think having a little bit more of a competitive mentality might kick in toward the last two hours and knowing how to finish something that's tough whether it's a sports event or the fact that your feet hurt and you're tired but you can't sit down," Raeman said.
In the past, Raeman has performed in athlete
hour pep rally during THON with other members of the men's golf team and plans
to do the same this year.
While they haven't finished in the top three
historically, with stiff competition from other Nittany Lion teams, Raeman is
feeling confident his team can pull out a win this year.
"I think the golf team is a sleeper this year," Raeman said. "I think we have a chance, we have a vision, we just have to put together a couple more steps. I think we might take it home this year."