Penn State's associate athletic director for football administration had put on a good front all afternoon, scurrying about Lasch Building to keep things flowing smoothly during the Nittany Lions' annual Make-a-Wish tours of the sprawling facility.
The event, during which children who are fighting or who have beaten cancer are teamed with PSU players to check out the complex, is held in conjunction with the THON activities taking place across the street at the Jordan Center every year.
The kids and their families -- nearly 80 people in all this year -- are all smiles as they try on equipment, check out things in the weight room, sit at Joe Paterno's desk and have all sorts of fun while they are given free reign over the building. After that, they enjoy ice cream and cookies with their hosts.
And, at face value, this year was not so different from the previous three. But there was one significant change that was not readily apparent until Ganter was overcome by emotion.
Absent this year was Kyla Miller, a Lasch Building tour veteran who passed away after a long fight with brain cancer before reaching her 10th birthday. At the end of the afternoon, after he had thanked everyone for coming and spoke of how proud he was of the players for pitching in, Ganter wept when he mentioned the one child who was not there.
Later, he described Kyla as little girl full of energy, holding a hand parallel to the ground to indicate how small she was. He shook his head, then smiled while explaining how much it meant to him that her parents and two brothers still came back this year to be a part of the Lasch proceedings.
We compiled a video report on the event, which, as always, was fun and touching at the same time. Check it out below.
And if you'd like to pitch in to THON's fight against pediatric cancer, check out this site: http://www.thon.org