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Penn State THON holds Family Hour to honor Four Diamonds children, families | THON News

The annual Family Hour during THON’s Final Four was held Sunday afternoon in the Bryce Jordan Center, and during the event, families shared their personal experiences with pediatric cancer.

Stacia Bird, the daughter of the late Four Diamonds co-founder Charles Millard, started off the hour by talking about her dad’s legacy and THON’s impact.

Millard died on Nov. 4, 2021, and Bird said Millard was looking forward to the 50th THON this year.

Bird discussed her parents’ experience with their late son Chris Millard battling pediatric cancer 50 years ago. She said Four Diamonds was created to honor Chris, and she said she “watched the magic” from Penn State students that brought THON together.

“Not only have you breathed life into Four Diamonds, quite honestly, you breathed life into my dad after all these years,” Bird said. “THON was the thing he lived for and looked forward to. For him, it was a celebration of Chris’ life.

Bird said her dad was a “rockstar” at THON and said THON changed lives “far beyond what they imagined.”

She ended with a quote Charles loved: “What you do for yourself dies with you when you leave this world. What you do for others lives on forever.”

Following Bird’s speech, there was a procession of all the THON families that came to the BJC for the weekend. Kids waved to the audience, did the worm and completed cartwheels as their families were announced.

THON 2022, Family Procession, Kenzie Robertson family

The Kenzie Robertson family, paired with the Springfield org, waves while making their way across the THON stage for the Family Procession during Family Hour of Penn State THON at the Bryce Jordan Center on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022.

There was also a portion of the hour where families joined in from home through a slideshow. The only Four Diamonds families present at THON 2022 were those whose children aren’t in active treatment.

Later, the Declan Homan family shared their story. Declan’s mom shared her son’s story and said “every family has a different journey.”

She reflected on Declan’s many surgeries early in his life and the time when the family learned about his cancer diagnosis. The Holmans said they’re big Penn State fans — and 2017 was their first THON. Declan is five years cancer-free.

The family had “peace of mind” throughout their experiences with both THON and Four Diamonds and said it was “hard to express their gratitude” to all of the work the community has done.

Declan stood on the BJC stage and thanked the crowd for hosting him and his family.

Then, the Grace Schneider family joined the BJC with a video from home. Her mom said Grace is just 6 years old and was diagnosed with cancer in September 2020.

THON-funded research has helped Grace immensely, and working with Four Diamonds was a seamless experience, Grace’s mother said.

She said Grace’s current treatment is going well and thanked THON volunteers and attendees for their direct impact on the family.

After Grace’s story, a slideshow played, featuring the stories of THON children who now live cancer-free.

The McKenzie Schneider family then came to the stage to talk about their THON journey. McKenzie died of cancer in 2009, and her dad explained her journey with a crew of support from the students from the Mont Alto campus and more.

THON 2022, Stacia Millard

Stacia Millard, daughter of Four Diamonds co-founder Charles Millard who died in November, speaks about her father’s love of THON at the start of Family Hour during Penn State THON on Sunday, Feb. 20, 2022 in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Later, McKenzie thanked the THON community for all it has done because the families will “never forget” everything the community’s done.

“We pray in THON for some day, no child will pass away from cancer,” McKenzie’s dad said.

A “Celebration of Life” video was played to commemorate THON Angels who have died from cancer.

The event closed with performances of “Angels Among Us” and “Dancing in the Sky” as spectators lit up the BJC with their phone flashlights.


What's it like watching THON from above?  Penn State students share their experiences in the upper level

With all of the excitement taking place on the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center, it’s easy t…

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