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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One of Penn State's most impactful weekends on campus has nearly arrived. As more than 700 students take to the floor at the Bryce Jordan Center, Penn State football's Charlie Shuman and Nick Scott will be among the passionate individuals dancing for the cure.
Both Shuman and Scott will dance for the cure for childhood cancer of course, as the annual 46-hour dance marathon kicks off Friday evening. Shuman will dance on behalf of the Penn State Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) for the second consecutive year, while Scott will dance for the first time, representing the student leaders organization.
While football pairs the two as teammates, it's the desire to support families
impacted by childhood cancer that's uniting their cause.
As SAAB's treasurer this year, Shuman had the feeling he would be selected to dance again. It was only cemented when a few dancer spots came open.
For Scott, football experiences sparked his interest, but he chose to go outside of what he calls his "athlete bubble" to do more.
"I think throughout my career I've done a lot through the football program for the community and I wanted to make sure that I left my footprint somewhere other than the football field and influence people other than using my jersey to do so," Scott said.
Scott took to social media to help raise funds for his organization to earn dancer spots. He started a Facebook page to spread awareness for his cause.
First introduced to THON during his freshman year, Scott was part of the football pep rally routine and made his first visit to the Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey with the team.
"I got to see what the kids go through on a day-to-day basis and that was really tough for me since the first time I visited Hershey my freshman year," Scott said. "I knew I always wanted to help out people who are struggling, especially kids. I've always wanted to take it a step further and do more outside of the football team."
Last year Scott joined his girlfriend on the floor as a member of her pass list, which gave him a bit more of an idea of what to expect. His pass list this year features Johnathan Thomas, who he'll lean on when fatigue begins to take its toll.
On the floor for the entire 46 hours though, is Shuman, who Scott won't have to spend too much time looking for when it comes to finding his 6-foot-8-inch teammate for a boost of motivation.
"The first thing he told me was not to expect him to give me any piggy back rides, which is fair," Scott said with a smile. "I understand he's dancing too."
Shuman knew he wanted to do it all again from the moment he finished THON 2017 - even though he didn't exactly remember the final moment.
"I was my normal self until right up to the end," Shuman said. "It was really important to read the dancer mail. I had a letter from a kid I know from back home who suffers from cancer so being able to read that, I was like okay, if he can do this every single day, I can do this. One more hour of my life is nothing compared to the battle he has for the rest of his life."
Shuman's biggest piece of advice for Scott though, is simply to remain positive.
"Charlie's a pretty positive guy so if I get down I'll start to feed off of him a little bit and vice versa," Scott said.
While Shuman can offer tips to Scott and his SAAB teammates ahead of time, it's the type of adventure where preparation comes better through experience.
"You kind of have to experience it for yourself," Shuman said. "I can give everyone as many tips as I want, but everyone is going to react to staying up for 46 hours differently."
Come Friday, the two will actually be on different teams for the weekend, with Scott on the purple team and Shuman on the orange team.
Shuman's thoughts on the matter?
"We're going with 'compete in everything you do' throughout the weekend for sure," Shuman said.
There's no sneak peek when it comes to this year's THON pep rally dance from Shuman or Scott, which debuts Saturday night.
"They're working really hard," Scott said. "I've been a little bit involved, just making sure they're staying on the right track answering any questions they have and what to expect. I think these guys have a real shot."
In the spirit of THON weekend, check out the 2017 THON pep rally dance below.