Liberty Ball

Date and Time
Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 7:00PM

Crystal Tea Room
100 E. Penn Square
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Black-Tie Optional

Special Guest MC

Check In
Tickets will not be sent out in advance. You will be asked to provide your name at check in

Complimentary parking is available.

Event Program
Cocktails, Butlered Hors D’ouvres, Raffles
Silent Auction (Open until 10:30pm)
Dinner and Liberty Ball Program
Dessert & Dancing
Grand Total Announcement

Hotel Accommodations
Staying the night?
Book your room at the Courtyard Mariott
Philadelphia Downtown by clicking here.
Book by February 3, to receive a special rate!

About US

The Liberty Ball, A Knight for the Kids, is an annual gala and year-round fundraising effort to support the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) and its sole beneficiary, Four Diamonds, in their mission to conquer childhood cancer. The gala's title, "The Liberty Ball", was inspired by an icon of the Philadelphia region: the Liberty Bell. The theme "A Knight for the Kids" was born from reflection on Christopher Millard's remarkable story behind the Four Diamonds name: the quest of the valiant Sir Millard to find the four diamonds of courage, wisdom, honesty, and strength, which represent the four elements necessary to battle cancer.

The Ball was conceived by members of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association as a way for alumni to maintain a connection to THON and continue fundraising for Four Diamonds after graduating from Penn State. Since the first Liberty Ball in 2006, the Liberty Ball and the Philadelphia Chapter have raised over $200,000 in the fight against pediatric cancer.

Continue reading to learn more about Four Diamonds, Penn State Thon and Gabrielle Chapman's, this year's Liberty Ball family, battle with the "Beast".

The Chapman Family

Gabrielle's heroic story started way before being diagnosed with cancer.  She was born with no issues; however, three days later she was admitted to the NICU where she would spend a week with a mysterious infection. Shortly after her release, she found herself back in the hospital where doctors diagnosed her with Hydrocephalus, which is when the brain makes extra fluid and causes the head to grow rapidly.  Over the following year, Gab went through a lot of therapy, CT scans and doctor visits.  She was learning to live with Hydrocephalus.

INSIGHT #1: One out of five children do not survive cancer.

Gab was at the park playing when she fell and hit her head and got a bump.  The family followed concussion protocol and she appeared to be fine.  The next day Gab was having difficulty walking so they took her to see her pediatrician.  Doctors believed it to be a viral infection and told the family to come back in two days if the symptoms continue.  Two days later Gab found herself once again with her pediatrician.  She could no longer walk as she was confined to crawling to get around.  After a series of CT scans, the family was told to go back to see Gab's pediatrician immediately.  The silence in the pediatrician's office was deafening prior to the family being told that Gab may have a cancerous brain tumor.

INSIGHT #2 An estimated 16,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year (43 kids per day).

The family rushed back to the hospital where an MRI confirmed their worst fears; Gab must undergo surgery to remove the tumor if she wanted to live.  Gab made it through the surgery and a biopsy on the removed four centimeter tumor confirmed that it was cancerous.  Gab had Medulloblastoma and will have to undergo chemotherapy if she wanted to beat the "beast"

INSIGHT #3 Four Diamonds and Thon cover 24 specialty care providers, including social workers, music therapists, child life team, nutritionist, pharmacists, genetic counseling, art therapy, psychologist, pastoral care, just to name a few.

A pediatric social worker introduced the family to Four Diamonds and Thon.  

"We could never say thank you enough to all of the people we have met and helped us through our darkest hours.  A few things that Four Diamonds and Penn State Thon provides that seem little but meant everything to us were: gas, phone and food cards.  The phone cards were our life line to our family, we called our other daughter every night to check in when Gab was inpatient." - Chapman Family

Gabrielle treatment consisted of five regular rounds of chemotherapy, her own stem cell transplant, numerous MRI's, clinic visits, immunizations, and years of check-ups. She and her family went though a lot.  Gab's twelve years removed from brain surgery and eleven years cancer free!

"We would like to thank Four Diamonds, Penn State Thon, Hershey Medical Center and anyone who's helped in our daughter's battle with the 'beast' and saving her life.  What an incredible gift we've been given... the privilege of watching Gab grow up!" - Chapman Family

Kayla Nakonechni Knight Award Recipient: Barbara A. Miller, M.D.

About the Knight Award:
Kayla Nakonechni was a Penn State student and Penn State Dance Marathon (THON) dancer when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 astrocytoma. In August 2013 she underwent surgery to have a tumor removed from her left brain. Her surgery came after months of partial seizures, including a full gran mal seizure, and her diagnosis came as a surprise. Kayla elected to have all of her procedures and treatment at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in large part due to her passion for THON. Kayla immediately took her incredible strength and positive attitude into six weeks of daily radiation and weekly chemotherapy. She returned to Penn State after missing only one semester and made the Dean's List despite still going through chemo treatments. Before THON 2014, Kayla received the Diamond of Strength Award at the Road To THON Celebration. Though she experienced complications over the next year, including several blood transfusions and a bout with a lung disease, Kayla was no evidence of disease. In December 2014, Kayla graduated from Penn State with a degree in biology. In late 2014, Kayla's cancer returned. After weeks of chemotherapy and another round of radiation in July 2014, Kayla's tumors had decreased in size. However, her body was not able to withstand the cumulative effects of her treatment and disease. She passed away surrounded by family on October 14, 2015. Each year during the Liberty Ball we will remember and honor Kayla for her strength, courage, and incredible passion for THON.

Dr. Barbara A. Miller is this year's Knight Award winner.
Dr. Miller is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, the Christopher Millard Chair for Pediatric Oncology Research at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, and Associate Director for Pediatrics at the Penn State Cancer Institute. She received her MD degree from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, and was a pediatric resident at Duke University Medical Center. She completed her fellowship training in pediatric hematology/oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Boston, Massachussetts, and then became a faculty member at Harvard Medical School. She returned to the Department of Pediatrics at Penn State and is currently Professor and Chief of the pediatric hematology/oncology division. She has won many “Top Doctor” and patient satisfaction awards, as well as awards for her research including election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation. She has been awarded numerous NIH and Foundation Grants to support her work, as well as having the honor of receiving an endowed Chair from Four Diamonds at Penn State in honor of Christopher Millard. She has had the privilege of building the clinical division and the Four Diamonds Pediatric Cancer Research Center into one of the top programs for pediatric oncology care and research in the country.

Dr. Miller is internationally recognized for her work on the superfamily of TRP ion channels. Her laboratory studies the role of these ion channels in cell survival, cancer and in the response to chemotherapy. Ion channels are pores on the surface of the cells through which ions like calcium and sodium enter a cell. This dramatically affects many processes within cells including cell growth, survival, and energy production in the powerhouse of the cell, mitochondria.

Dr. Miller’s lab is currently studying a channel called TRPM2. This channel is found on many cell types and has an important role in proliferation and survival. TRPM2 channels are highly expressed in neuroblastoma, the most common pediatric solid tumor outside the brain, as well as in many other cancers including melanoma, lung, breast cancer and leukemia. This channel has a role in preserving cell survival including regulation of mitochondrial function, reactive oxygen species production, bioenergetics and autophagy. When the channel is inhibited, tumor cell growth is blocked and cell survival is decreased, resulting in increased sensitivity to chemotherapy. Her research currently focuses on better understanding of the mechanisms through which TRPM2 modulates growth, and new projects are characterizing its role in metastasis and leukemia. Dr. Miller’s lab is now utilizing a drug discovery approach to identify a TRPM2 inhibitor that may be a novel anti-cancer agent for a number of pediatric malignancies in the future.

Three Ways to Help

1. Purchase Tickets

Tickets to “The Liberty Ball, A Knight For The Kids” are no longer available for 2018.

2. Donate

The Liberty Ball, A Knight for the Kids is an annual black-tie optional event held by the Philadelphia Chapter of the Penn Sate Alumni Association to benefit Four Diamonds at Penn Sate Hershey Children’s Hospital.  The mission of the Liberty Ball is to provide emotional and financial support to the children, families, researchers, and staff of the Four Diamonds Fund.  Since the first Liberty Ball in 2006, the event has raised more than $204,000 to help fight pediatric cancer.  Click here to donate to The Liberty Ball.

3. Become a Sponsor

The Liberty Ball is looking for your help to secure auction items and sponsorship for our annual black-tie gala event with all proceeds benefiting Four Diamonds. The success of The Liberty Ball would not be possible without the generosity of donors. All participating businesses are prominently featured in our event program, online bidding service, and video screens throughout the event, receiving exposure to over 500 event attendees and over 3,000 online followers.  Click here to download a sponsor packet.



  • The Liberty Ball Committee is responsible for the preparation and implementation of all aspects of the Liberty Ball and consists of various sub-committees that handle specific areas/tasks for the Ball. The committee meets on a monthly basis. Below are a listing of the sub-committees that aide in the planning of the Ball.  For questions about Liberty Ball 2018 or to get involved with the general committee for Liberty Ball 2018, please contact Caitlin Simcox and Lauren Nakonechni.


  • The Technology Team is responsible for any IT needs for the events leading up to and including the Ball. This includes web-development, application development, tablet distribution and electronic payment processing the evening of The Liberty Ball.  For questions about technology or to join the technology team please contact Santo Fortebuono.



  • The Events team is responsible for the planning of pre-Liberty Ball fundraisers and activities that raise money for the operating costs of the Ball while building awareness and excitement about the Ball. Members of this team should be outgoing and possess the ability to generate enthusiasm for unique and creative events.  Past events include: Quizzo nights, Penn State Football game watches, THON™ night at the Camden Riversharks, and Dave & Buster’s Spirit night.  For questions about events or to get involved with the Events Awards committee, please contact Victoria Maseda.  For Events Day Of Logistics or Game Watches committee please contact Caitlin Scroger.


  • The Silent Auction & Raffle team is responsible for proactively soliciting items from area businesses for the auction and raffle that occur at the Ball. This team keeps account of all items received and organizes them into one of the two categories as applicable. Members of this team would benefit from great networking and sales skills to aide in soliciting businesses to donate.  For questions about the silent auction & raffle or to join the silent auction & raffle team contact Brian Levengood.


  • The Sponsorship team is responsible for procuring corporate sponsorships for the Ball by reaching out to past contacts as well as developing new relationships with potential sponsors. The sponsorship team is the owner of the sponsor packet which outlines levels of corporate sponsorship along with the levels of each. They will maintain a master listing of all outreach performed, contacts and levels of commitment. For questions about sponsorship or to join the sponsorship team please contact Rachel Greider.



  • The Marketing & Sales team is responsible for building awareness and publicity of the Liberty Ball through traditional and innovate forms of media (i.e. social media, print publications, radio, TV, etc.). This team is the driving force of ticket sales for the Ball and will work closely with the events team and co-chairs to create excitement about the Ball.  For questions about marketing & sales or to join the marketing & sales team please contact Lauren Burrell and Rebecca Balchunas.


Upcoming Events


The Philadelphia Chapter and the Liberty Ball Committee wish to thank the following 2018 sponsors

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Liberty Ball 2018 is almost here! Share your favorite Liberty Ball memories in the comments! #tbt #AlumniFTK ... See MoreSee Less

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Liberty Ball would like to thank M & T Bank for their support of Liberty Ball 2018. We are working together to fight against pediatric cancer. ... See MoreSee Less

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Liberty Ball 2018 would like to thank Wissahickon Brewing Company for their sponsorship. ... See MoreSee Less

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Today is the last day to purchase tickets for Liberty Ball 2018. We will close ticket sales on libertyball.org at 5 pm. Don't miss out on a great night of dinner, drinks, dancing and silent auction #FTK. ... See MoreSee Less

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Liberty Ball would like to thank PSU Brandywine Alumni Association for their sponsorship of Liberty Ball 2018. Thanks for joining the fight against pediatric cancer. ... See MoreSee Less

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Liberty Ball 2018 is almost here! Share your favorite Liberty Ball memories in the comments! #tbt #AlumniFTK

Did you hear? KYW Newsradio was with us at Field House yesterday for the #THON2018 total reveal. #AlumniFTK https://t.co/MYR55oCjqG

Congratulations Penn State THON for another amazing year! https://t.co/MeVdcmvsaX

Come to @FieldHousePHL at noon today to countdown the final 4 hours of #THON2018 with us! #AlumniFTK #PSUPhilly #LibertyBall2018

Dr. Miller will be honored with our 3rd Annual Kayla Nakonechni Knight Award at next week's Liberty Ball. Check... https://t.co/3yRDACHs54

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