When Daniel Testa was a baby, he was diagnosed with childhood cancer. During Daniel’s stay at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, his family learned about Four Diamonds and THON, and they’ve been involved ever since. Today, Daniel is a happy and healthy middle school boy. He loves being active and spending time with his THON Organizations, Delta Upsilon and Delta Gamma. When he’s older, Daniel would like to work in the sports industry.
Marget Shelly is a Penn State student who share’s Daniel’s love of sports. As a member of Penn State Women’s Swim and Dive Team and the Student Athlete Advisory Board THON Chair, her dream is to one day be able to help and positively impact everyone she meets with her Penn State degree.
“I feel so lucky for my education and the opportunities and experiences going to Penn State has provided me with and I hope that I get to return all that good into the world in my future profession. I want to be a part of making the world a more loving and accepting place and creating equal opportunity for everyone,” Marget explained.
Like so many others, Marget knows that her experience with THON has helped her to fuel her passion for helping others and develop an optimistic mindset.
“My experience as a THON Chair has made me a bigger part of such a special community of people. I feel like a lot of the times it is easy to focus on all the negative things that are happening in the world because that is what we are used to focusing on. Being a THON Chair has opened my eyes to all the amazing people doing incredible work right on Penn State’s campus. Being surrounded by so many people who want to make a difference and bring happiness to families who are struggling is such a beautiful reminder that there are so many good people in the world. I am constantly in awe of the students who run THON and bring its mission to life.”
Those who bring THON’s mission to life often simultaneously bring their own dreams to life. This is especially true for Avery Olah-Reiken, an alumnus from Hoboken, NJ who graduated this past May. Avery volunteered as a DAR CM during his sophomore and junior years and became a DAR AE Captain his senior year. He was also a THON 2021 Dancer for the Penn State Sports Business Club. Just like Daniel, Avery always wanted to work in the sports industry as a kid, and now he gets to live out his dream every day as a member on the sponsorship team for the Detroit Pistons and Motor City Cruise (minor league affiliate). Avery credits THON for giving him the resources and support to work for his dream.
“THON shows all kids that they can accomplish their dreams, no matter how big or small. As a THON volunteer, I met some of the most incredible people who always gave me the strength and encouragement to chase my dreams. THON is such a welcoming environment that I always knew that I had the support of my friends to chase my dreams. THON gave me the platform to give back, help others and make a difference in the community. I am now lucky to build on that experience in my current role, and for that I am forever thankful to THON.”
For Avery, it is important to make sure that his passion for THON doesn’t end with his college experience. He wants to continue to use his unique talents and resources to give back to the THON Community.
“My THON journey isn’t just confined to the four years I spent at Penn State. Especially as a former Alumni Engagement captain, I understand that alumni have the power to spread THON’s message outside of State College and across the world. As someone who works in the sports industry, I always love seeing when teams have THON games. Penn State has the best alumni association in the world, and many alumni work within the sports industry. All alumni have the power to make an impact, and I love that the sports industry has actively worked to integrate THON’s mission.”
As THON nears the end of its 3rd annual Dream Forward Campaign, our community will continue to provide kids with all the tools and encouragement needed to live out their dreams. As more children, students, and alumni develop their passions and build a community through THON, they in turn use their talents to spread THON’s mission around the globe.