by Mehreen Hoque

Even though 2022 is coming to a close, THON’s mission endures. Join us through the end of 2022 in THON’s Season of Giving, as we continue to support our children and families impacted by childhood cancer. To celebrate THON’s Season of Giving, we wanted to showcase the hard work and dedication of THON volunteers across all levels of involvement. THON recognizes and appreciates all of the support given throughout the year by its passionate volunteers. 

Will Vincent has been involved with THON for all 4 of his years at Penn State. He has been a committee member on a Donor and Alumni Relations Committee, an Alumni Engagement Captain, the Alumni Engagement Director, and now he is the Special Events Director for THON 2023. 

When asked why he gives his time to THON, he explained, “The more I have gotten involved in THON, the more I am reminded of why I fell in love with this organization and why we do what we do. While I have so many memories in the Bryce Jordan Center during THON Weekend that are constant reminders of how amazing THON truly is, I have had the pleasure of seeing so much more than just THON Weekend and been able to see what makes THON so special all year round. The support and encouragement this community gives to our families is something that is difficult to describe, and I am sure that some people may struggle to believe it is real – but it is, every single day.”

Will Vincent at THON 5K Powered by PNC

Another one of our volunteers is Siobhan Collins. Siobhan has been involved with THON since her freshman year at Penn State, starting as a Committee Member on Entertainment for her first two years. Last year, she was a Crowd Entertainment Digital Engagement Captain and led a committee (giving a shoutout to Alvan ENT the Chipmunks), and this year she is the Talent Coordinator on Entertainment. 

When asked about what THON means to her, Siobhan provided a moment she had during THON Weekend 2021:

“During THON 2021, the Akright family spoke, saying ‘on the inside looking out, you can’t explain it. On the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. It’s not a place, it’s the people.’ This quote has been one that has stayed with me in my last three years within the organization, summing up this ‘feeling’ of THON that is so hard to put into words. Looking back on my four years at Penn State, I have found home in the THON community. From the freshman who was in awe of the experience in the BJC that February, to the sophomore who watched this community rise to the occasion during such a challenging time, to the junior who got to witness her own committee experience the love and family that is THON, and to the senior who is taking in every moment wishing it would just slow down. My THON experiences have shaped my life in more ways than I can explain, and will forever be something I hold in my heart as the most special memories. I THON to ensure that kids can enjoy the wonder of being a kid, siblings can grow up with their brothers and sisters, and so parents get to watch their kids grow up.” 

Siobhan Collins at THON Weekend 2022

Juliann Farrell has been involved for the last four years as a committee member on various committees, including Rules & Regulation, Special Events, and Hospitality. This year, this adored volunteer is not only a Communications Committee Member, but is also fundraising as an Independent Dancer Couple for a chance to dance during THON Weekend 2033. 

Juliann explains how important being a part of THON was to her college experience and her life. “To me it doesn’t even feel like I’m giving my time up but more of an integral part of my life,” Julia said. “THON has given me so many friendships, hope and unforgettable memories that makes me every year want to give more back to this community. Every year I learn more about cancer research, the THON families and everyone in the THON community and it has shaped me into a better person and volunteer. I’ve always felt that THON is a ray of sunshine in many dark times and to be a part of creating this light is beautiful and why I THON.”

Juliann Farrell at THON Weekend 2022

Similarly, Julia Cusatis has been involved with THON through Club Cross Country since her first year of college. During the 2020-2021 THON year, she served as the Family Relations THON Chair and currently serves as the Internal Communications (Primary) THON Chair. 

When asked about why she THONs, her answer was simple- for our Four Diamonds families. 

“The Four Diamonds families are at the heart of THON, and THON means that none of them will fight cancer alone,” Julia said. “Additionally, THON means getting closer and closer to kids just being kids, families just being families, and cancer being cured.”

Julia Cusatis (pictured in the middle) for THON 5K Powered by PNC

Dylan Hausner is a current member of the Phi Beta Lambda THON Committee. When asked what drives his motivation for THON he said, “I THON for the little guy. All my life I have been the little guy. In sports I was always the smallest. I was the smallest guy but had the biggest heart and I think that is a message that I translate to THON. Being there for the little guy or in this case being there for those who are going through tough times is something I would be honored and cherished to accept.”

When asked what THON means to him he said “I can’t pick out many things that I have been a part of that I would consider life changing. But THON, THON is life changing. The same way people can cheer ‘WE ARE PENN STATE’ at a football game reigns true during THON. There is something about many people doing a great thing as one that is just so inspiring. In THON it is never about me, it’s we. That was felt in a major way. I locked arms and hugged people I had never met before. There are no lines to cross or social blocks when it comes to THON. We are all in it together and we are all in it for the kids.” 

Dylan Hausner at THON 5K Powered by PNC

As the Season of Giving begins, we want to begin by giving thanks to all apart of our community. THON would not be the success it is without the passion and love from our student volunteers. Every person in our THON community serves to make Penn State proud. The dedication from our volunteers make it possible to encapsulate THON’s views and mission, and help take one step closer to dancing in celebration instead of a cure- all For the Kids®.