Our THON Dancer Connor Riddle Shares His Story

By Connor Riddle — January 9th was an incredibly impactful day for me. This is not because it was my birthday, but because I was elected as a THON dancer representing Sigma Alpha Epsilon here at Penn State. Words could not express the pride that ran through me, knowing that I would be out there dancing with the support of my brothers, the people who have given me the best four years of my life. 

A few years ago, I celebrated this birthday alone as my mother had to take my father to his first chemo treatment at Sloan Kettering. My father had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer weeks earlier. He showed how to be strong when things got tough, and how to be a man when unfortunate situations like this occur. He fought for a few more years until the spring semester of my freshman year.

At this time I certainly was distraught and did not know how to approach this once in a lifetime event.  My best friends and brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were the ones who helped me get through this time. They picked me up when I was down and helped me move on. For that I am forever grateful.

A month or two after his passing, my 14-year-old cousin was diagnosed with Leukemia. It seemed that my family and I could not catch a break. We were soon thrown back into this painful waiting game and watched her battle for her life. Again, I felt lost and had no idea how to approach such an unfortunate situation. My best friends of Sigma Alpha Epsilon were there for me and supported me throughout her battle.

I am proud to say that she is now finished with treatment and enjoying her freshman year at the University of Miami. It is because of these experiences that I am honored to dance for my fraternity at THON. Cancer has played a major role in my life, but I know that on February 17th I will be entering the Bryce Jordan Center doing all I can to find a cure.