Become A Runner

Thank you so much for expressing interest in becoming involved with The Hope Express.  Entering our 9th year The Hope Express is driven by its volunteers, but more importantly it inspired by the ideals of Courage, Strength, Honesty and Wisdom.

We are currently looking for committed and enthusiastic runners, who are Penn State/The Hope Express alums or Four Diamonds families, to be runners in The Hope Express. Please read on about the benefits and responsibilities of being a Hope Express runner.

Your application will be reviewed and an assessment will be made on how many runners we will need for the event. If there are more applicants than spaces, please let us know if you would be willing to be a volunteer in another capacity.

Runner Benefits

I.  Staying Connected to THON
The Hope Express provides an incredible opportunity for Penn State/ THON alumni to stay involved in THON. After graduation many alumni feel disconnected to THON and this event is built on the same foundation as The Hope Express and of course every step and dollar is FOR THE KIDS!

II.  Meet People with the Same Passion
The Hope Express runners/volunteers start off strangers for the most part. It is amazing what can happen in just 24 hours. Be prepared to become a family with these individuals who cheer you on, who you support and who want to make a difference and live with a purpose.

III.  Raise More
The Hope Express is looking to dramatically increase the amount of funds that are raised. Since its inaugural run the event has raised over $500,000 for THON, and that is just the start of what can be done with this event.

IV.  Run For A Reason
If you are applying for this event – chances are you like running to some degree. This run is unlike any one that you have ever done and will entirely change your perspective of what it means to running.

V.  Be Part of Something Unique
All volunteers area huge determinate in the growth of The Hope Express and you have the opportunity to advance this event to the potential that we know it has.

VI.  Have Fun!
Not just during The Hope Express itself but also throughout the entire event – runners and volunteers are treated to an experience that will stay with them forever, and one that results in laughter, memories and tears as well.

Runner Responsibilities


  • Conference Calls: We will hold numerous conferences calls leading up to The Hope Express.  These are usually held at 9:00 PM on Tuesday evenings and will total about 4- 5 throughout the season. We would like all runners and volunteers on these calls.
  • Email Communication: Much of our communication is done through emails as we often pose questions that are looking for group feedback. In order to grow this event it is vital that all runners and volunteers contribute to email discussions with new ideas and different ways to do more FOR THE KIDS!!! Also, these emails will provide important information regarding fundraising, group gatherings and conference calls.
  • Group Gathering: There will be at least one group gathering held prior to The Hope Express.  This allows everyone to meet the others involved, plus it provides an idea of runner abilities to ensure that the run goes smoothly. This event is usually held the second weekend in January. We may also hold another group gathering focused primarily on fundraising.


  • Fundraising Support: We have a Fundraising Chairperson available as a resource to all runners for any fundraising concerns or questions.
  • Fundraising Goals: Each runner will be asked to reach a fundraising limit.
  • Fundraising Online: The Hope Express can accept online donations.  Once selected, you will have your own donation’s page where you supporters can donate to you specifically. Make a Donation
  • Fundraising with Cash and Checks: We HIGHLY encourage you to supplement your online fundraising with a letter writing campaign and other cash and checks. You will be able to send any donations collected in this manner along to the Fundraising Captain.
  • Fundraising Events: Please feel free to coordinate any fundraising events in your local community to get more behind your and the team’s efforts. If you need help with any logistics please feel free to ask any of your teammates for ideas.


  • Runner Ability: The Hope Express runners enter with very different running abilities. Some runners can run sub-seven minute miles while others are comfortable 10-minute milers. Speed is important in determining which legs you will run, but does not determine whether a runner is strong enough or not for the event. The most important characteristics of a runner are heart and passion to do more FOR THE KIDS.
  • Runner Pre-Work: Runners should be completing an average of 16-20 miles a week. During The Hope Express runners complete three, three-mile legs (with everyone also completing the last mile together). The miles that you will run before The Hope Express are vital to make sure that you can endure any mountain or fatigue that you may encounter.
  • Running Environment: A bulk of your training will come during the winter months, as will the event itself. Make sure that you are getting miles in outside, rather than on a treadmill.  Make sure that you incorporate hills into your workouts, and also try to include some runs in the dark (make sure that safety is your top priority) as our event covers a 24 hour period of time.

Other Points

  • Above and beyond anything else you must be committed to THON and The Four Diamonds Fund.
  • You need to be available for Runner’s Weekend (Usually held the second weekend in January).
  • You must be able to take both Thursday February 18th and Friday February 19th off from work, school or other commitments.

If you have read and understand the agreements and commitments outlined above, please complete the Runner Application to be considered as a runner for 2016 The Hope Express.

The deadline to apply for the 2016 Hope Express was September 30, 2015.