Cancer survivor gives back through poker tournaments

Jimmy Clark to host ninth annual event
Jimmy Clark

Jimmy Clark, a cancer survivor and Penn State graduate, left, will host the ninth annual Poker with Jimmy tournament on Sunday, Nov. 11.  This is one of many events sponsored by Penn State York Benefiting THON to raise money for children battling pediatric cancer.

Credit: Barbara Dennis

Fighting for his life is something Jimmy Clark, 25, understands well. A cancer survivor, Clark will host the ninth annual Poker with Jimmy, a No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament on Sunday, Nov. 11. The tournament has raised more than $75,000 over the past eight years, for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund (through THON) at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital for children battling pediatric cancer. This year’s event takes place at the Goodwill Fire Company, 2318 S. Queen St., York, Pennsylvania. Doors open at 10 a.m. with play beginning at 11 a.m.

This is just one of many events, sponsored by Penn State York Benefiting THON, leading up to the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon (THON), the 46-hour dance marathon, set for Feb. 15-17, 2019, at the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus. In 2018, THON raised more than $10 million.

Poker with Jimmy is not a pay-to-play event. Participants can make a donation if they choose to; the suggested donation is $30. Since all items at the event are donated, all proceeds go to children battling pediatric cancer through THON and the Four Diamonds Fund at The Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.

Three winners will receive prizes. The first-place winner will select their prize from among these three -  a trip to Las Vegas including airfare and a four day, three night stay at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino, $500, or a 10-person Barrington poker table and chips.

Clark, from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, knows well what it is like to battle cancer.  A two-time cancer survivor, he was diagnosed in December 2008 with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer in his right leg. He was treated for cancer at The Penn State Hershey Medical Center, and the surgery to remove the tumor and save his leg was done at John Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. Clark and his family received positive news on June 18, 2010, when his status was changed to NED (No Evidence of Disease).  

While fighting his cancer, Clark and his family benefited from the generosity of the Four Diamonds Fund. He has undergone more than 20 surgeries and more than 3,500 hours of chemotherapy.

“Battling Cancer has completely changed my life, my views and morals, and made it clear what is important in life,” said Clark. “I want to give back for all that I have received.”

A 2011 graduate of Red Lion High School, Clark has been involved with THON since his diagnosis in 2008.  

While a student at Penn State York, Clark was involved with the campus THON group and, in 2013, was one of the dancers representing Penn State York at THON Weekend.

Clark graduated from Penn State in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and concentration in entrepreneurship. He works locally in his family’s business and continues to give back for all that he received during his battle with cancer.

Anyone interested in supporting the dancers from Penn State York can donate online. Checks in support of THON should be made payable to: Penn State Dance Marathon or THON, and sent to Penn State York, 1031 Edgecomb Ave., York, PA 17403. Be sure to note York, Org. 170 in the memo line of the check.

THON is the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, engaging more than 16,500 students in the fight against childhood cancer. THON’s yearlong fundraising and awareness campaign culminates in a 46-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon every February. Since 1977, THON has donated more than $157 million to Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, funding comprehensive care and critical research.