THON Org Spotlight: Club Ultimate Frisbee
By Christain Piccioni
One of the reasons that THON is such a special event is because of the unifying power it has across the entire Penn State community. It’s hard to find a Penn Stater, past or present, that hasn’t contributed to THON in some way or another.
Many of Penn State’s clubs and organizations have continued to increase THON’s reach. I have been lucky enough to be a part of Penn State’s Club Ultimate Frisbee team, and witness firsthand the amazing work some of my teammates have done to join the fight against childhood cancer.
Penn State has three frisbee teams, Spank (men’s a-team), Lovetap (men’s b-team), and Crisis (women’s), all of which work together in one organization to raise funds and awareness for THON. Although club sports have not been cleared for action by the university this year, normally all three teams practice and condition throughout the year and compete in tournaments across the region in the spring and fall. This year, Penn State Club Ultimate will be represented at THON by two dancers, Erin Malonzo and Zoey Nichols, who are both members of Crisis.
The organization is also honored to support our THON child, Celia, and her family, the Cosentino’s. When asked about them, Zoey shared, “It was impossible to not fall in love with them. The Cosentinos are such wonderful people and they, through everything, exude fun and optimism,” and Erin added, “Celia is the most loving and adorable human being that I have ever met in my life.”
Erin, a junior from Bergenfield, NJ studying Agribusiness Management, played a major role in elevating our organization’s participation in THON over the last few years. She admitted to not knowing much about THON when she first stepped on campus, but after spending time on a Rules and Regulations committee her freshman year, she has been heavily involved ever since! She also mentioned Melissa Javier, a former member of Crisis and Penn State Alum, as a big motivator behind her participation in THON.
Erin’s creative approach to fundraising has been wildly successful for our organization and set her apart as a leader in the organization. Last year, she was the mastermind behind what is widely understood to be the best event in the history of our organization: a date auction in conjunction with the Club Croquet team where members from each team could enter themselves to be bid on by others. She even shaved her head as a part of the ‘No Hair Don’t Care Event’ in support of pediatric cancer patients.
Erin’s positive and fun-loving personality shows through in her work and has had an undeniably significant impact on our organization. Outside of THON, Erin also enjoys cooking and playing ukulele, and if you were to ask her how she’s doing at any time of the day, she’d probably respond by saying that she is, “just vibing”.
Zoey, a junior from Haymarket, VA, studying Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, is serving as THON Chair for Crisis this year after becoming a part of the team last fall. “Joining the frisbee community was, hands down, the best decision I’ve made in my time at Penn State…I love that, along with our athletic and personal relationships, we can all come together for such a great cause,” she explained.
Her motivation for dancing comes from beyond the scope of Penn State, too, as she shared, “A few years ago, my little brother lost one of his best friends. Alex, to childhood cancer. The two of them were wheelchair buddies and were so close. He introduced my brother to sled hockey and wheelchair basketball.” I can attest that Zoey’s hardworking and determined spirit is sure to make her supporters and motivators proud on THON weekend.
In her free time, you might find Zoey thousands of feet in the air in the small plane her father, a private pilot taught her how to fly, or spending time with her especially tall and perpetually injured boyfriend, Jordan Capuani. She also volunteers locally as a crisis hotline counselor at Centre Helps.
Both dancers admitted to some uncertainty, but still a great deal of excitement, about what they expect the virtual version of THON weekend to entail. Between support from their organization as well as other friends and family, I’m confident that both will have a most successful experience and make the whole Penn State community proud.
If you’d like to support Penn State Club Ultimate’s THON Fundraising efforts, you can find their donor drive pages here: Women’s Ultimate Frisbee & Men’s Ultimate Frisbee